No need to be polite with motorists who flout school bus laws

Through November of this year, 302 students and drivers were injured in school bus accidents in Georgia, according to state data. Most of the injuries were minor. The total is just three less than all of 2015, and surpasses the 231 injured in 2014. (AJC photo)

A concerted effort is underway this year to persuade Georgia drivers to obey the laws requiring them to stop for school buses.

First lady Sandra Deal is doing her part, saying, “Unfortunately, each year children are injured or killed because of someone’s failure to obey bus safety protocol. We must always prepare to stop as soon as we see the signs that a school bus is getting ready to let children off. Our goal is to emphasize school bus safety not only to the students, teachers, and bus drivers, but to all drivers on the road. Please be cautious whenever you are sharing the road with a school bus, and remember to teach your children proper bus safety.”

And the Georgia Department of Education sent out a reminder to drivers to obey traffic laws on stopping for school buses:

As students return to school, the Georgia Department of Education and State School Superintendent Richard Woods are urging motorists to use caution when approaching a school bus and to brush up on the law regarding passing a bus.

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 schoolbus 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,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “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.”

“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,” Superintendent Woods said. “Patient, informed, and law-abiding drivers ensure that our children can arrive safely at school each day, ready to learn.”

DOE is being too polite. I see impatient motorists every day going around school buses and endangering children. I suggest DOE consider my editing of its statement:

To the drivers who don’t stop for school buses and threaten children’s lives:

You are not only stupid, self-centered and pathetic. You are dangerous. Stop it or we will throw you in jail.

If we had rocket launchers on our cars, we’d aim them at you.

Signed, Your friends at DOE.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

44 comments
gapeach101
gapeach101

I met kids at the bus stop for 7 years.  I never saw anything scarier than a car coming around a stopped bus.  The driver was always in a hurry and not only passing the bus, but doing it at a high rate of speed.  We had a great bus driver who was always on the lookout and on a few occasions scared the bejeesus out of the kids as she laid on the horn, pretty much keeping the kids standing right in front of the bus.  They didn't know a car was coming, but they knew something was up. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

When I was 13 I saw a 5 year old boy hit and killed as he dashed across the neighborhood road next to the high school.  The teenaged driver had just left school and had friends in the car and did not see him coming.  I can still hear the thunk as his head hit the pavement, the screams of his mother across the road, and the praying aloud of the coach who ran over to try to help.


You never ever want to have that happen.  It has stayed with me for (so far) 51 years.

Starik
Starik

All true - but on a 2 lane road if drivers would pull into a right turn lane, or a parking lot, and wave people by when they develop a traffic jam as a tail it would be appreciated.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Starik Leave earlier, or take a different route.  The buses drive the same route, at the same time, everyday.

Starik
Starik

@Wascatlady @Starik Like I said, a little  courtesy from drivers would be welcome.  Is that a bad thing?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Starik @Wascatlady You want to hire more drivers with your tax dollars?  It will take a lot more buses and drivers to get those kids to school if they have to pull over when a line of cars is behind them, then get back into traffic.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Starik @Wascatlady What bugs me more is the bus stopping at.every.mailbox. instead of a central pickup area.


Of course, living in the country, there are no sidewalks or other places for kids to walk to to get to central pickup areas.


Near my house the bus stopped 5 times in 2/10 of a mile.  Not on a highway, mind you.


In Athens my kids had to walk to the end of the block to be picked up, but I was always concerned about their safety.  Not so much from cars--it was a residential neighborhood--but from unsavory neighborhood boys.  A year after we moved away a teenager 2 houses down killed a neighborhood girl.  The boy on the other side of us, being raised by grandparents, ended up in trouble with the law by the time he was 11. He liked to shove smaller kids waiting for the bus in front of cars.  And this was NOT a "bad neighborhood."

Starik
Starik

@Wascatlady @Starik Everyplace is different.  Where I am, within a mile radius we have a County high school, a middle school, an elementary school, a Catholic High school, a Protestant Christian school and a bunch of day care centers.  Bus jam. 

SteveReynolds
SteveReynolds

Every school day, every bus is tailgated in GA. All buses should have it posted on the rear of the bus to stay back "X" number of feet. The problem is getting local jurisdictions to enforce it. 

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

I would aim the rocket launcher . . . and I would fire it. Better the impatient, self-centered idiot gets it than some innocent child. 

ptcrunner
ptcrunner

Understand those rules folks or they will get you - I had a misunderstanding when traveling up a multi-lane road and was caught via camera. I thought I was OK, but like it is stated here, there needs to be a physical separator on a multi-lane route - I just had a turn lane. I was wrong and paid the fine. What baffled me was the guy behind me followed, but I didn't see him/her at traffic court that day about three months after the incident. I confess that person was riding my tail and somewhat got me to keep going as the school bus' arm swung out. I could have argued, but I just paid a reduced fine, kinda like no lo contendre. 


Still, I see folks stopping on a multi-lane road, opposite direction even with a physical separator - so that can cause confusion. 

kaelyn
kaelyn

Makes me mad as heck. It's not just the buses, but the school 20 mph zones that hardly anyone pays attention to. People seem to think that they can ignore those yellow flashing lights, especially if they don't see kids around. I've had drivers nearly in my back seat or honking horns to get me to go faster in school zones. It's ridiculous that so many people can't follow basic rules.

class80olddog
class80olddog

" In Georgia, the crime of reckless conduct is a misdemeanor. Generally, a misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year imprisonment, a fine of $1,000, or both"  Both sounds good to me.  Maybe during that year they could think about it.  Whether these sentences are given tells you what our Justice system thinks about the welfare of our kids.

John1066
John1066

These people need to be punished harshly. It makes me sick that so many people think their time is so much more important than everyone else. So much so as to endanger children just trying to get to school. I see it with people and emergency vehicles. Get out of the way so they can do their job. You are not the most important thing in earth. But not yielding to emergency vehicles is far different than the possibility of a child running in front of your car. Suspend their license or huge fines.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@John1066 Suspending their licenses would get some people's attention.  Not others, they would just drive anyway. 

Astropig
Astropig

@class80olddog @John1066


Amen. The general public would be shocked to know just how many of their fellow motorists are driving around on suspended licenses.

C. Diff
C. Diff

Some of the bus drivers contribute to the problem by leaving the yellow flashers on for 10-20 seconds after stopping. Even when they turn on the red flashers, the kids sometimes take their sweet time getting on or off the bus. Turn on the red lights as soon as the bus comes to a complete stop. Then get the little darlings to MOVE their butts!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@C. Diff You have to give the idiot drivers plenty of warning!  Or they will say they "couldn't" stop!  By the way, some of the children are asleep and have to be awakened, and some are various stages of handicapped, but not enough to need the sped bus.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

The bus drivers in my area pull into the center of the road in an attempt to also SHOW drivers oncoming and behind that they cannot go past.  It seems to work well.  They also watch the cars around them and when they are moving past, the drivers SLOWLY put out the sign to stop, to give the drivers a chance to get around.


We need to also double the efforts of catching school zone speeding. When we lived in Tallahassee, I drove through 5 school zones(!) to get to the university.  Each zone had a minimum of 2 officers (one with radar, one on motorcycle) and frequently 3 in every school zone every day.  It impressed upon people that if they did not obey the law, they WOULD get a hefty ticket!  Athens was a shock because it was not at all enforced there, and my kids and a school patrol officer almost got hit by one of the speeders.


Once when I had after school car line duty, a mom on her cell drove up on the curb 3 feet and almost hit me and a child (luckily I always held the children back 4-5 feet) and did not even pause in her conversation!   Even to greet her child!

PITTFAN
PITTFAN

@Wascatlady 

I'm pretty sure pulling into the middle of the road is not allowed.  It's a terrible idea because now the kids have to walk even further to get to the bus.  I'm also sure they cannot SLOWLY put out the stop sign.  That's not a manual function, it's activated at the same time the red lights come one.   So pretty much, everything about your post is wrong.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@PITTFAN @Wascatlady Sorry I was unclear. The driver can decide when to put on the red lights, which activates the stop sign.  So around here you can see a VERY LONG yellow blink to clear the way.


Pulling a few feet over the center line works in stopping cars.  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Here is a question: If he bus driver reports it,can the person be charged?

C. Diff
C. Diff

@Wascatlady Nope. Only a POST certified law enforcement officer can issue a citation and it must be based on his/her personal observation of the violation. That's why a cop has to review the video from the camera equipped buses before the citation is mailed to the violator.

class80olddog
class80olddog

While I believe that people who violate this law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, I also believe that parents should also teach their kids to look both ways before stepping out from around a school bus to cross the road.  It does not matter who is right or wrong if your child is dead.  A number of years ago there was a horrible accident on Yellow Creek Road when a girl was run over by a person who could not stop and went around the school bus.  While there was plenty of blame to go around, if the girl had looked before crossing the road, maybe she would be alive today.  In our world, we take for granted that everyone will obey the rules.  Like drivers who pull out without looking when their light turns green and then gets hit and killed by a person who runs the red light.  Yes, that person is wrong and guilty and needs to spend the rest of their life in jail, but you are DEAD.  Parents, teach your children to look after their own safety instead of blindly trusting the school bus laws.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @class80olddog He was towing a trailer with a heavy piece of machinery on it - the brakes on the trailer did not work (it was a company vehicle and he was just the employee).  He came over a hill and the bus was there and rather than hit the bus in the rear, he swerved around it - right as two sisters were crossing the road.  Killed one sister and injured the other.  The story I hear was that they found him a few hundred yards down the road sitting under a tree, weeping.  The parents petitioned the county to change the bus routes to prohibit children from having to cross the road but the county said it would be too expensive. This happened in 1999.

PITTFAN
PITTFAN

@class80olddog 

Agreed that the children should stop and look but a 5 or 6 year old remembering that all the time will be difficult.  Adults driving the cars should shoulder the responsibility for not being idiots and stopping when they see a stopped bus.  It truly amazes me how ignorant ADULTS can be, especially if they are parents.  Do they not think of their own children while speeding passed a bus?

PITTFAN
PITTFAN

@class80olddog 

I'm not disputing that and I taught my kids the same.  But like I said, the really young ones will forget to do so.  As they get older, I fully expect them to look both ways.  On the other hand, what do the schools teach them about exiting the bus?  I know my kids had to have session about bus safety in regards to crossing in front of the bus.  All buses are equipped with that long extension arm on the front that extends when the lights are activated.  Kids have to walk around that and I don't know if the driver's tell them to keep walking or look both ways.  BUT!  I'm a firm believer that buses should never make kids cross in front of them.  They should only be picked up on the side where the door is.  I know that will never happen though.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@PITTFAN @class80olddog I agree, that would be the SAFEST solution.  However, that would cost counties and taxpayers a LOT of money, and which is more important, money or the lives of children?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@PITTFAN @class80olddog Back "in my day" - we were taught early on to "look both ways before crossing a street" - and we were punished severely if we did not comply.  Seems like that part of parenting has gone away - like a lot of other things.

Astropig
Astropig

 Mrs. Deal is 100% right.Any injury or death involving a loading or unloading school bus is a needless tragedy. I'd like to see the legislature make this an automatic license suspension-type offense.If you're that reckless,you don't need to be driving anywhere,anytime.


That said, it's a hard crime to prosecute.Cops can't follow school buses everywhere,and they don't just load and unload in school zones.When an idiot driver ignores an extended stop sign on the bus and passes,it takes split second presence of mind to record a license number,make and model of car.etc.In all of my years of bail bonding,I only saw two cases of passing a stopped school bus.Both times there was a police officer within sight and they made the case. (One was a woman driver in a minivan,taking her kids to school).There were many,many more cases of speeding in a school zone,for which the fine was pretty steep.

ErnestB
ErnestB

@Astropig


Cameras can be a part of the solution for identifying vehicles that do not obey laws with respect to school buses.  I agree that those who pass school buses should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Astropig That is why more and more school buses are equipped with cameras to take pictures of the offending drivers.  Of course, when they catch them, they need to charge them with reckless endangerment and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.  And like all crimes, stop giving them a slap on the wrist (probation or very light sentence).  Full sentence and no parole.

Astropig
Astropig

@ErnestB @Astropig


Agree.Back in the day,cameras were just being put on a few buses,but their resolution was such, that conditions had to be just right to get a usable plate number.That is certainly not the case today.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog @Astropig One count for every child and adult on the bus!  Also, drug test them and check their cell phone for use at the time of the incident!

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @class80olddog @Astropig


"  Also, drug test them and check their cell phone for use at the time of the incident!"


Gonna need a court order to search that cell phone and some probable cause for a drug test.As for the earlier suggestion of full sentence with no parole,it just means that the mom in the minivan faces hard time for a traffic violation (not to minimize the danger in any way).In practice,that means that the charge will be pled down to a lesser crime because,well,because that's just the way the legal system works sometimes. Probate judges (the ones that I have seen) are not going to throw a first offender in the slam for any length of time if no one is injured or killed.If there are fatalities or injuries,the case goes to Superior Court,where the judge can bring the pain.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Astropig @Wascatlady @class80olddog So if the person is lucky and no one is killed, they get off with a light sentence?  Sort of like shooting at someone and barely missing them - you didn't commit murder, therefore you should get a light sentence?

Astropig
Astropig

@class80olddog @Astropig @Wascatlady


"So if the person is lucky and no one is killed, they get off with a light sentence? "


Pretty much. Usually it's just a fine.I never saw anyone get jail time.


This would be a good cause for readers to take up: Mandatory jail time for violations of the school bus stop sign law,along with a defensive/safe driving course before you can drive again.There is precedent-judges can give mandatory time for DUI,so why not this?