2020 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 8 - Equipment and Inspection of Motor Vehicles
Article 1 - Equipment Generally
Part 3 - Brakes
§ 40-8-50. Brakes Required

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-8-50 (2020)
  1. As used in this Code section, the term:
    1. "Gross combination weight rating (GCWR)" means the combined gross vehicle weight ratings of all vehicles in a combination of vehicles.
    2. "Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)" means the value specified by the manufacturer or manufacturers as the maximum loaded weight of a single or a combination (articulated) vehicle, the actual gross weight, or registered gross weight, whichever is greater.
    3. "Hazardous material" has the meaning provided by Chapter 51 of Title 49 of the United States Code Annotated.
    4. "Surge brakes" means a self-contained, permanently closed hydraulic brake system for trailers that relies on inertial forces, developed in response to the braking action of the towing vehicle, applied to a hydraulic device mounted on or connected to the tongue of the trailer to slow down or stop the towed vehicle.
  2. Every motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle or motor driven cycle, when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and hold such vehicle, including two separate means of applying the brakes, each of which means shall be effective to apply the brakes to at least two wheels. If these two separate means of applying the brakes are connected in any way, they shall be so constructed that failure on any one part of the operating mechanism shall not leave the motor vehicle without brakes on at least two wheels.
  3. Every motorcycle and motor driven cycle manufactured after January 1, 1974, when operated upon a highway, shall be equipped with at least two brakes which may be operated by hand or foot.
  4. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (e) of this Code section, every trailer or semitrailer of 3,000 pounds gross weight or more shall be equipped with brakes on all wheels. Any farm trailer with two or more wheels, pulled from a tongue, used in or operated for farm purposes, including transporting fertilizer and agricultural materials to the farm, shall not be required to have an independent braking system thereon, provided such farm trailer shall not weigh over 4,000 pounds when empty.
  5. Any trailer or semitrailer may utilize surge brakes, subject to the following conditions and limitations:
    1. The gross vehicle weight rating or the actual gross weight of any surge brake equipped trailer or semitrailer does not exceed 20,000 pounds;
    2. For trailers and semitrailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 12,000 pounds or less, the gross vehicle weight rating of any such trailer shall not exceed 1.75 times the gross vehicle weight rating of the towing vehicle;
    3. For trailers and semitrailers with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 12,000 pounds, but less than 20,001 pounds, the gross vehicle weight rating of any such trailer shall not exceed 1.25 times the gross vehicle weight rating of the towing vehicle;
    4. The actual gross weight of the trailer or semitrailer and load does not exceed the manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating;
    5. The trailer or semitrailer brakes must be designed and connected in such a manner that in case of accidental breakaway of the towed vehicle the brakes shall apply automatically; and
    6. For vehicles used for commercial purposes, the vehicle or combination of vehicles complies in all other respects with licensing, insurance, registration, identification, driver and vehicle safety, and hazardous materials regulations of the Department of Public Safety and United States Department of Transportation applicable to such vehicles or combination of vehicles.
  6. Where there is no manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating or the manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating is exceeded in violation of paragraph (4) of subsection (e) of this Code section, then the actual gross weight of the trailer or semitrailer shall be used to determine compliance with paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (e) of this Code section.

(Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, § 115; Ga. L. 1965, p. 406, § 1; Ga. L. 1970, p. 438, § 1; Ga. L. 1974, p. 422, § 1; Code 1933, § 68E-301, enacted by Ga. L. 1982, p. 165, § 4; Code 1981, §40-8-50, enacted by Ga. L. 1982, p. 165, § 10; Ga. L. 2000, p. 809, § 1; Ga. L. 2002, p. 415, § 40; Ga. L. 2005, p. 334, § 19-2/HB 501; Ga. L. 2009, p. 449, § 3A/SB 128.)

Code Commission notes.

- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1991, "motor driven" was substituted for "motor-driven" in subsections (a) and (b) (now subsections (b) and (c)).


Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1910, § 1770(50) and former Code 1933, § 68-302 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Operation without brakes as negligence per se.

- Operation of a truck along the public streets not equipped with efficient and serviceable brakes constituted negligence per se. Orange Crush Bottling Co. v. Smith, 35 Ga. App. 92, 132 S.E. 259 (1926) (decided under former Code 1910, § 1770(50)).

Former Code 1933, § 68-302 should be construed to make it an act of negligence per se to operate a vehicle on a public thoroughfare without the required brakes. Cruse v. Taylor, 89 Ga. App. 611, 80 S.E.2d 704 (1954) (decided under former Code 1933, § 68-302).

Operation of a bus in a manner which constitutes a violation of former Code 1933, § 68E-301 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-8-50) prima facie establishes negligence per se in the absence of a valid defense. Johnson v. McAfee, 151 Ga. App. 774, 261 S.E.2d 708 (1979).

Duty to keep proper brakes imposed on owner.

- Statutory duty to keep an automobile equipped with proper brakes is imposed on the owner, and the owner is liable for any injuries proximately caused by the defective condition of the brakes if the owner permits another person to operate the vehicle while the vehicle is in that condition. Gregory v. Ross, 214 Ga. 306, 104 S.E.2d 452 (1958).

Cited in Harris v. Combs, 96 Ga. App. 638, 101 S.E.2d 144 (1957); Sims v. Hoff, 106 Ga. App. 626, 127 S.E.2d 679 (1962); Borochoff v. Russell, 108 Ga. App. 266, 132 S.E.2d 861 (1963); Juhan v. C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., 114 Ga. App. 608, 152 S.E.2d 623 (1966); Shirey v. Woods, 118 Ga. App. 851, 165 S.E.2d 891 (1968); Glynn Plymouth, Inc. v. Davis, 120 Ga. App. 475, 170 S.E.2d 848 (1969); Taylor v. Buckhead Glass Co., 120 Ga. App. 663, 171 S.E.2d 779 (1969); Cravey v. J.S. Gainer Pulpwood Co., 128 Ga. App. 465, 197 S.E.2d 171 (1973); Lewis v. Harry White Ford, Inc., 129 Ga. App. 318, 199 S.E.2d 599 (1973); White v. Seaboard C.L.R.R., 139 Ga. App. 833, 229 S.E.2d 775 (1976); Hurst v. J.P. Colley Contractors, 167 Ga. App. 56, 306 S.E.2d 54 (1983); Cantrell v. U-Haul Co., 224 Ga. App. 671, 482 S.E.2d 413 (1997).

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