Each day across Georgia, thousands of drivers illegally pass school buses when a stop arm is out, endangering children as they enter and exit buses.
The Georgia Department of Education is working with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help make motorists more aware of the laws regarding passing school buses.
According to Georgia law, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus activates its stop-arm on a two- or multi-lane road with no median or barrier. Vehicles travelling in the same direction as a school bus always must stop, but motorists travelling in the opposite direction can proceed with caution when there is an unpaved median or concrete barrier separating the opposing lanes.
Data voluntarily collected by districts statewide during a one-day survey in May show that 7,349 vehicles illegally passed school buses in a total of 4,222 incidences.
That’s compared to 8,102 vehicles during 4,629 incidences in 2011. Not all of the state’s 178 school districts with bus programs turned in data.
“While I’m pleased we are seeing fewer incidences of stop-arm violations, it’s frightening to think we have this many drivers breaking the law and endangering our children,” state School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. “I would ask the public to please pay close attention to school buses and watch for their stop signals. Student safety should be a priority for everyone in the community, not just parents and schools.”
Since 1995, 11 Georgia students have died when they were struck by motorists at the school-bus stop.
“We are so happy to partner with the Department of Education on this issue,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood said. “This issue is a no brainer. Protect our kids. It’s that simple.”