A campaign to curb school bus stop-arm running in Georgia has a high-profile advocate on board: First Lady Sandra Deal.
The issue has added urgency in the state. Georgia had two school bus loading/unloading fatalities in the 2010-11 school year and five in 2009-10, according to the Kansas State Department of Education’s national report (which has not yet been compiled for the 2011-12 school year). In three of those accidents, the students were struck by a vehicle illegally passing their bus.
In a one-day count of stop-arm running earlier this year, Georgia reported 7,349 vehicles illegally passing school buses.
Deal has been touring the state on Monday and Tuesday, visiting schools to promote the “Stop Means Stop” campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the need to stop for school buses.
The Georgia Department of Education and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety partnered for the program, and law enforcement agencies are also joining the effort.
For example, deputies from the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office are riding various school buses this week. If a deputy sees a violation, he or she will radio ahead to have another deputy stop the vehicle and issue the driver a citation.
“Our primary focus will be the safety of our children who get on and off school buses on a daily basis,” Effingham Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said.
Other recent news on efforts to fight stop-arm running in Georgia: