ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law on Friday a bill that reverses a provision in a law that had apparently loosened the requirement for when motorists had to stop for a stopped school bus.
As SBF previously reported, Senate Bill 25 aimed to change back a law that had initially only allowed motorists to drive past a stopped school bus when on the opposite side of a highway with roadways “that are separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier.” A change in a provision in the law was made with House Bill 978, which was signed into law in May, and apparently let motorists pass a stopped school bus if they are on the opposite side of a highway divided only by a turn lane.
Soon after, the state’s pupil transportation community raised concerns that the provision would compromise the safety of students at school bus stops.
The state Senate had passed Senate Bill 25 unanimously on Feb. 7, and the bill then moved to the House of Representatives, where it passed unanimously on Wednesday.
Pat Schofill, director of pupil transportation for the Georgia Department of Education, told SBF when SB 25 advanced that the department was “hopeful the change will be reversed and Georgia law will better reflect best practices to keep our kids safe."
Schofill, who is also the Georgia state director for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, added that the support of local transportation directors, concerned community members, and law enforcement organizations also helped bring to light the confusion caused by the 2018 change in the law.
Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement on Friday that his concerns about the initial change in the law have been put to rest.
“I have been concerned about our students’ safety since House Bill 978, which addressed passing a stopped school bus on a highway divided by a turn lane, was signed into law last year. Today, Senate Bill 25 was signed," Woods said in the statement. "It reverses the change and takes effect immediately — it is once again clear that in Georgia it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus unless on a highway divided by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier. I commend Gov. Kemp and our legislators, including Sen. [Bill] Heath and Rep. [Ginny] Ehrhart, for acting swiftly in the interest of students’ safety. I can rest a little easier tonight, and I believe that’s true for our school transportation directors and parents as well.”
After signing the bill, Kemp said that the quick action taken by the Assembly on the bill was a bipartisan effort, according to a news release from his office.
The new law went into effect on Monday, according to WTOC.