ATLANTA — As students return to school, the Georgia Department of Education is calling for motorists to use caution when approaching school buses and to brush up on school bus safety rules.
According to Georgia law, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus activates its stop arm on a two-lane road or a multi-lane road with no median or barrier. Vehicles traveling in the same direction as a school bus must always stop, but motorists traveling in the opposite direction can proceed with caution when there is an unpaved median or concrete barrier separating the opposing lanes.
“I urge the public to pay close attention to school buses and get familiar with the law regarding passing stopped buses,” said Richard Woods, Georgia’s state school superintendent. “Following this law may very well mean saving a child’s life. The safety of our students as they travel to and from school is of primary importance, and I ask for the participation of all Georgians in making sure our students can travel safely.”
The Department of Education’s back-to-school safety message to the public also went into more details about the loading and unloading process for school buses: A warning that a bus stop is about to take place is given with the flashing amber lights on the front and rear of the school bus. Upon seeing these flashing amber lights, vehicles approaching the bus from the front or rear should immediately slow down and prepare to stop.
Once the bus is fully stopped, the flashing red lights will activate and the stop arm will deploy. Vehicles must stop and should remain stopped until all loading students are aboard in the morning or all unloading passengers have cleared 12 feet off the roadway in the afternoon. Motorists should proceed with caution only after passengers have cleared the roadway, the stop arm is canceled, and the flashing red lights are deactivated.
Also, the Department of Education noted, all drivers must pay special attention to children, be focused, and exercise caution when in the vicinity of a school bus stop, because student riders can sometimes be unpredictable.
“As our school buses begin to roll again, I urge drivers to be alert and exercise patience and caution, especially around children waiting at school bus stops or loading and unloading school buses,” Woods added. “Patient, informed, and law-abiding drivers ensure that our children can arrive safely at school each day, ready to learn.”