The new school year is quickly approaching for thousands of students across the state and Georgia State Troopers are reminding motorists to be alert of school buses on the roadways. “Each school year, troopers investigate numerous school bus related crashes where children have been injured and some even killed,” said Colonel McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.  “To prevent these crashes, drivers should exercise caution when approaching a school bus on the road, especially when it is loading and unloading students,” Colonel McDonough added.

Georgia law requires vehicles to stop when overtaking or meeting a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading passengers. Drivers traveling in both directions should stop for a 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,” the commissioner said.

“Distracted drivers and motorists who speed in school zones also put children in danger,” Colonel McDonough said. State troopers regularly patrol school zones paying close attention to motorists not obeying the posted speed limit.  “Remember, school zones are marked with flashing lights or posted hours for reduced speeds,” he added.

Georgia State Patrol 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.