This year's one-day survey of illegal school bus passing in Georgia counted 6,807 violations, which officials said shows a decrease in the dangerous incidents over the past few years.
Data collected by Georgia districts during the annual survey — which is part of a nationwide effort coordinated by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services — showed 7,349 stop-arm violations last year and 8,102 in 2011.
However, state officials noted that the actual numbers are likely higher because not all of the state’s 178 school districts with bus programs turned in data. There were fewer school buses participating in the count this year than there were in the past two years.
“I am glad to see the numbers are declining, but more than 6,000 illegal passes of buses with stop arms down is very alarming,” State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. “I 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, 13 Georgia students have died when they were struck by motorists at a school bus stop.
As students across the state return to school, the Georgia Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety are urging motorists to use caution when approaching a school bus and to brush up on the law regarding stopping for school buses.
“The reduction in violations is an indication that more Georgians are learning and obeying the stop-arm law,” said Harris Blackwood, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “However, this is still too many, and we must continue to educate the public in order to better protect our students.”
In the past two years, multiple school districts in Georgia have added exterior cameras to their buses to catch stop-arm violators. For example, Marietta City Schools is now outfitting 10 more of its buses with stop-arm cameras. Gwinnett County Public Schools is installing exterior systems on 100 buses by Labor Day.
The state passed legislation to allow stop-arm cameras in 2011.