How many times have you been driving down the road and there is a truck or trailer in front of you that has lumber or logs in the bed that are sticking out? Sometimes there are fluorescent ribbons or flags and sometimes there aren’t. What’s the rule about that? Is it the same if you are bringing home a piece of furniture or a mattress from the store? What about a kayak or canoe on your roof rack?
Like just about everything else, it seems, Georgia law has some very specific rules about it.
Whenever you have anything sticking out of your vehicle, whether it is a car or truck or whatever, and that thing is sticking out more than four feet from the body of your vehicle, you have to have a marker on it. Notice it says the body of the vehicle, not the bumper, not the tailgate, not the trailer hitch: the body of the vehicle. What that marker is depends on the time of the day or the weather.
If the conditions are such that you should have your headlights on, you need a red light “plainly visible form a distance of at least 500 feet from the sides and rear.” O.C.G.A. 40-8-27(a). In case you didn’t know, you need to have your headlights on from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise; when it is raining, or when the conditions for whatever reason are such that you can’t see people or vehicles clearly for a distance of 500 feet ahead. (That could be fog, smoke from a brush fire, clouds of yellow pollen during that horrible week in April, anything…)
If it isn’t during one of those times, at the “extreme rear end of such load” you should have a flag not less than 18 inches square and hung that “the entire area is visible to the driver of a vehicle approaching from the rear.” O.C.G.A. 40-8-27(a). The flag needs to be bright red or orange fluorescent. You need one flag if the load is two feet wide or less. You need at least two flags if it is wider than that. The flags need to indicate the maximum width of the loads.
If you are toting logs, long pulpwood, poles, or posts, then you need to have an amber strobe lamp with a multidirectional lens. The strobe lamp should flash at least 60 times a minute. In lieu of the strobe lamp, you can use one LED light with a multidirectional lens, or multiple LED lights that flash at least 60 times a minute.
Got it? Of course, this only applies to long loads. Wide loads are a whole other story and a whole other code section. I won’t bore you with that today.
 Did you know that LED stands for “light-emitting diode”? I didn’t until I read that in this code section.
Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. It is being offered for informational purposes only.