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Authorities stepping up focus on bus stop-sign violators
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The Long County Sheriff’s Office and the Ludowici Police Department will join other state law-enforcement agencies in conducting the “Stop Means Stop” campaign during the week of Aug. 20-24 to crack down on drivers who pass stationary school buses that have their red lights flashing.

According to the state Board of Education, more than 4,100 violations of vehicles illegally passing school buses are reported on a single day in Georgia.

“The kids are important to us, and we won’t put up with anyone running a school bus stop sign,” Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles said. “If they do, we’re going to cite them, and they will be fined significantly — that’s this week and for the whole school year.”

According to Coastal Area Traffic Enforcement Network Coordinator Capt. William Hires, there were 69 crashes that involved school buses during the 2011-12 school year in the CATEN area.

Hires said Georgia law requires all vehicles to stop while a school bus is loading or unloading on two-lane roads and four- or five-lane highways that are not divided. On four-lane highways that are physically divided, only the traffic traveling on the same side as the bus must stop. A law authorizes use of video recording devices on school buses. Violations documented by such devices carry civil penalties of $300 for the first offense, $750 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense in a five-year period. The civil penalties will pertain to violations recorded by devices. Violations witnessed by law-enforcement officers will result in the issuance of a uniform traffic citation, fine and six points against the violator’s driver’s license.

Long County Assistant Superintendent Dr. Glen Purcell said the school system appreciates the efforts of the law enforcement agencies and also encouraged drivers to abide by the stop signs.

“Around 80-85 percent of all of the accidents with school buses happen when the kids are loading and unloading,” Purcell said. “With that in mind, I’m asking all drivers to be especially careful when they see a school bus stop to pick up or let some kids off.”

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