As students return back to school across Georgia, motorists, students and parents are reminded to put safety first in school zones and in areas near bus stops. Students travel to school by various modes of transportation, including riding a school bus or vehicle with family or friends, walking, riding bikes, or taking public transportation. It is important that everyone use caution and stay alert around traffic to ensure children travel to and from school safely.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers the following traffic tips for everyone (motorists, children and their parents):

Motorists should drive with extra caution around children going to/from school:

  • Obey signs, signals, and crossing guards in school zones.
  • Slow down especially with children walking/biking to school and around bus stops and in school zones and in low light or bad weather.
  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in your State.
  • Drive focused and alert at all times. Avoid use of electronic devises and other distracting behaviors while driving.
  • Ensure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up properly and that children are in the back seat in the proper seat.
  • Drop off so the child does not have to cross the street, and then avoid U-turns.
  • Look for and expect to see pedestrians and bicyclists, especially before and after school.

School bus riders are safest when children:

  • Stay three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb when waiting for the bus; and when the school bus arrives, wait until the driver says to board.
  • Quickly board the school bus, find a seat, sit facing the front, and do what the school bus driver and safety patrols say to do.
  • Getting off the bus, cross in front at least five giant steps (10 feet) away and look left-right-left for traffic. Wait for the driver to signal it is safe to cross.

Walking to school is safer when children:

  • Walk with an adult, responsible older sibling, or in a group.
  • Walk on the sidewalk if there is one, or walk facing traffic as close to the edge as possible.
  • Walk focused and alert. Never use electronics when crossing the street.
  • Pay attention to their surroundings and don’t play with, push or shove others.
  • Cross at a corner, in a crosswalk, or with a pedestrian WALK signal.
  • Stop and look left-right-left for all traffic, including bicycles, before crossing. Cross only when it is clear.
  • Wear bright colors and/or use lights or reflective gear to be more visible to motorists.

Biking to and from school is safer when children and adults alike:

  • Wear and buckle a properly fit helmet every ride.
  • Wear bright colors and/or use lights or reflective wear to be more visible to motorists.
  • Have a good grasp of traffic safety rules including riding in the same direction as traffic and stopping at all stop signs and signals.
  • Choose safe routes to ride, including streets with lower traffic volume and speeds.
  • Ride focused and alert—never using electronics or both ear buds while riding. 

Regarding School Buses, Georgia law states:

  • Passing is prohibited on either side of a school bus during passenger loading and unloading.
  • If a school bus activates its swing-arm stop sign and red flashing lights that is an indication to slow down and stop.
  • When the bus is loading and unloading passengers, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop if no median separates traffic lanes heading in opposite directions. Motorists should stay stopped until the school bus resumes motion or visual signals are no longer activated.
  • However, drivers traveling on a highway with separate roadways (i.e. separated by a median such as concrete or grass) are not required to stop if the school bus is on the opposite side of the highway, or upon a controlled-access highway when the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.

 Failure to obey the swing-arms can result in:

  • Mandatory Court Appearance
  • Up to $1,000 Fine
  • Up to 6 Points on Driving Record
  • A Conviction under 21 Years of Age Constitutes License Suspension