(Atlanta) – As students begin to return to the classroom for the new school year, the Georgia State Patrol is reminding motorists to use caution when driving near school bus stops and in school zones. Troopers will be ticketing drivers who exceed the posted school zone speed limit and who do not stop for a school bus that has the stop lights and stop arm activated.
“Each school year, troopers investigate school bus related crashes where children have been injured or killed,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “To prevent these kinds of crashes, motorists should use caution when approaching a school bus, especially when it is loading and unloading passengers,” he added.
Georgia law requires vehicles to stop in both directions for a stopped school bus that is displaying its red stop lights and has the stop arm activated, except on a controlled-access highway or when the highway is divided into separate roadways. After stopping, the driver may proceed only when the school bus resumes motion or when the flashing lights are no longer activated. “If you see a driver who is disregarding bus stop signals, please do not hesitate to notify local law enforcement,” said Colonel McDonough.
State troopers will also be patrolling school zones watching for drivers not obeying the posted speed limit. Distracted drivers who speed in school zones put children in danger. Remember, school zones are marked with flashing lights or posted hours for reduced speeds, the commissioner added.
Georgia State Patrol Commanding Officer, Major Tommy Waldrop, encourages parents to review the following school bus safety tips with their children:
Loading the School Bus
- When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness. Do not stray onto streets.
- Line up away from the street or road as the school bus approaches.
- Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before stepping into the roadway.
- Use the hand rail when stepping onto the bus.
Unloading the School Bus
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road, until you can turn around and see the driver before safely crossing.
- Make sure that the bus driver can see you.
- Wait for a signal from the bus driver before beginning to cross the road.
- When the bus driver signals, walk across the road, keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes.
- Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has signaled that it is safe for you to begin walking.
- Stay away from the bus’ rear wheels at all times.
Crossing in Front of a School Bus
- Children should always stop at the curb or the edge of the road and look left, then right, and then left again before crossing. Continue looking in this manner until they are safely across.
- If students’ vision is blocked by a parked car or other obstacle, they should move out to where drivers can see them and they can see other vehicles — then stop, and look left-right-left again.