Traffic Laws for Summer Travel

Author: Alex Delaney

State by State laws for the Southeast

The South is on the move for the summer. To help you avoid any unnecessary fines, we’ve put together a list of highway traffic laws for the Southeastern part of the country.

Georgia:

Hands-Free Driving: No individual shall physically hold or support, with any part of his body, a wireless communication device or stand-alone electronic device while driving.  A driver can use no more than one single button on a wireless device to initiate or terminate a voice communication.

Move Over Laws: Must move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down below posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.

Super Speeder is a classification that allows for an additional $200 fine on top of any other fines for someone convicted of driving 85 miles per hour or more on any road or highway, or 75 miles per hour or more on any two-lane road or highway.

Helmet Laws: Georgia requires motorcyclists to wear helmets at all times while operating a motorcycle.

 

Alabama: 

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban, but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle is parked on the shoulder. This includes law enforcement, utility service vehicles, recovery vehicles such as tow trucks, garbage and recycle vehicles if lights are flashing. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down to 15 miles below the speed limit.

Left Lane Driving: Alabama requires that you only drive in the left lane when passing another vehicle.

Helmet Laws: Alabama requires motorcyclists to wear helmets at all times while operating a motorcycle.

Super Speeder:  Alabama does not have a super speeder law. The speeding law is absolute, meaning it is a violation to go 56 in a 55 mph area.

Florida:

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban, but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle is parked on the shoulder. This includes law enforcement, utility service vehicles, recovery vehicles such as tow trucks, garbage and recycle vehicles if lights are flashing. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down to 20 miles below the speed limit. If posted speed is 20 mph or less, must slow down to 5 mph.

Helmet Laws: Florida does not require helmets when operating a motorcycle. However, they do require the non-helmeted biker to carry $10,000 of medical payment insurance.

Super Speeder: Severe penalties for going 30 miles over the posted speed limit.

Kentucky:

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban, but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle is parked on the shoulder. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down.

Helmet Laws: Kentucky does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets if they are over 21 years old.

Super Speeder: No harsher consequences for excessive speeding.

Louisiana:

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban, but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must reduce speed.

Helmet Laws: Louisiana requires all motorcyclists to wear protective headgear/helmets.

Super Speeder: No harsher consequences for excessive speeding.

Maryland:

Hands-Free Driving: No handheld cell phone use while driving.

Move Over Laws: Must slow down and move over one lane if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. This includes transportation, service, utility and waste and recycling trucks if lights are flashing. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down and be prepared to stop.

Helmet Laws: Maryland requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets that are certified to meet Dept of Transportation standards.

Super Speeder: No harsher consequences for excessive speeding.

Mississippi:

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban, but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must slow down and move over one lane if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down and be prepared to stop.

Helmet Laws: Mississippi requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets that are certified to meet National Hwy Traffic Safety guidelines.

Super Speeder:  No specific super speeding law, however, a reckless driving charge that causes harm could result in stiffer penalties.

North Carolina:

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban, but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must change lanes or slow down if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. This includes all state vehicles with amber lights (utility vehicles, state trooper and other law enforcement vehicles, service vehicles such as cable, telephone, electric). If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down and be prepared to stop.

Helmet Laws: North Carolina requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets.

Super Speeder:  North Carolina has chosen to penalize slow drivers at about the same level as speeders. There are no enhanced consequences for speeders. It is against the law to drive less than 40 mph with a posted 55 mph speed limit, or less than 45 mph with a 60 or greater speed limit.

South Carolina:

Hands-Free Driving: South Carolina is pushing legislation, but does not currently have a law against hands-free driving. However, texting while driving can incur a $25 fine.

Move Over Laws: Must change lanes and slow down if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. This includes ambulance, police, fire, rescue, recovery, or towing vehicles. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down and be prepared to stop.

Helmet Laws: Only motorcyclists under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet.

Super Speeder: You can face jail time for going 25 miles over the speed limit in addition to up to $200 in fines.

Tennessee:

Hands-Free Driving: No handheld cell phone use while driving.

Move Over Laws: Must move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. This includes police, firefighters, other emergency personnel and utility workers. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down below posted speed limit and be prepared to stop. Maximum fine of $500 and possible 30 days in jail.

Helmet Laws: All motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards.

Super Speeder: Tennesee has an absolute speeding law, meaning you can be ticketed for going 1 mile over the speed limit. There is currently no “super speeding” law, although there have been attempts to pass one.

Texas:

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban except while in school crossing zones., but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must change lanes or reduce speed to 20 mph below the speed limit if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. This includes police, fire, emergency and Dept of Transportation workers with overhead flashing blue or amber lights. Up to $2,000 fine for violators.

Speed: Texas doesn’t play. Interstates may have speeds up to 80 miles per hour. But when they say 80, they do not mean 81 and you will get ticketed for any mile over the speed limit. Believe me. My spouse (a police officer) was ticketed for going 3 miles over the speed limit in Texas. And we were in a Prius!

Texas Slow Poke Law: Left lane is only for passing.

Driving the Shoulder: In Texas, it is common courtesy, and the law supports this, to move onto the shoulder when a faster vehicle approaches from behind on a two-lane road. You cannot pass on the shoulder. Other shoulder driving is allowed if it passes the Texas “necessary” requirements, generally meaning it is temporary and can be done safely.

Helmet Laws: Texas requires all motorcyclists under age 21 must wear a helmet. For riders over 21, they do not have to wear a helmet if they have successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course, or they are covered by a health insurance policy covering medical benefits for injuries.

Virginia:

Hands-Free Driving: No current ban, but texting while driving is prohibited.

Move Over Laws: Must move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder. If unable to move over due to high traffic volume, must slow down below posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.

Speed Limit: Unless otherwise noted, the maximum speed limit on interstate highways, other limited-access highways and state primary highways are 55 miles per hour. For trucks, tractor trucks, or transport trucks, the maximum speed limit is 45 miles per hour.

Helmet Laws: Motorcyclists must wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles, or have a windshield on the motorcycle.  Operators and passengers shall wear protective helmets that meet Dept of Transportation standards.

Super Speeder:  Reckless speeding is a criminal offense in Virginia if you go 20 miles or more over the speed limit, or in excess of 80 miles per hour. Penalties include incarceration, loss of driving privileges and a $2500 fine.

West Virginia:

Hands-Free Driving: No handheld cell phone use while driving.

Move Over Laws: Emergency vehicles have the right of way. Drivers should move over one lane when encountering an emergency vehicle on the shoulder if lights are on. If unable, due to traffic conditions, drivers must slow down to no more than 25 miles per hour.

Helmet Laws:  Motorcyclists must wear, securely fastened on their head, a helmet designed to deflect blows, resist penetration and spread impact forces.

Super Speeder: While West Virginia does not have a “super speeder” law, you can be charged with reckless driving for exceeding 80 mph, or by exceeding the speed limit by 20 mph or more.

So stay aware, and stay safe out there!  Have a wonderful, safe summer.