With children returning to school over the next few weeks, the Georgia State Patrol is reminding drivers to be alert when traveling in school zones and near school bus stops.
Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Georgia state troopers regularly patrol school zones as part of their normal duties and they will be keeping a close watch for school zone violations. He said troopers also will be watching for people who fail to stop for a school bus that is stopped to load or unload passengers.
Hitchens reminds drivers that Georgia law requires vehicles to stop when overtaking or meeting a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading passengers. Vehicles are required 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, you may proceed only when the school bus resumes motion or when the flashing lights are no longer activated.
Georgia state troopers and officers with the Department of Public Safety’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division are urging drivers to leave more space around the school buses, especially when following a bus.
“Drivers who tailgate a school bus are not prepared for the frequent stops a bus must make,” Hitchens said. “Just as we caution drivers about leaving more space around tractor trailers, drivers should not tailgate a school bus and not cut them off in traffic.”
Fatal traffic crashes involving school buses occur most often when the driver of the smaller passenger vehicle strikes the school bus.
“Drivers should always exercise caution around a school bus and observe the posted speed limit in school zones,” the commissioner said.
He reminds drivers that a conviction for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus carries six points on your driving record.
“For drivers under the age of 21, a conviction for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus will result in a six-month suspension of your driver’s license,” he added.
Hitchens also cautions motorists to be alert for children waiting at bus stops, especially during the early morning hours when visibility is reduced.
“Children are not always alert to dangers around them at school bus stops,” he said. “Drivers should be prepared to stop when approaching children waiting for a school bus.”