MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorie Turner Nolt, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 656-5594, email@example.com
Aug. 24, 2012 -- Each day across Georgia, thousands of drivers illegally pass school buses when a stop arm is out, endangering children as they enter and exit buses.
The Georgia Department of Education is working with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help make motorists more aware of the laws regarding passing school buses.
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 travelling in the same direction as a school bus must always stop, but motorists travelling in the opposite direction can proceed (with caution) when there is an unpaved median or concrete barrier separating the opposing lanes.
While the number of motorists in the state who violate stop-arm laws declined this year over last year, the rate remains alarmingly high. Data collected voluntarily by districts statewide during a one-day survey in May show that 7,349 vehicles illegally passed school buses in a total of 4,222 incidences.
That’s compared to 8,102 vehicles during 4,629 incidences last year. The numbers are likely higher than that because not all of the state’s 178 school districts with bus programs turned in data.
“While I’m pleased we are seeing fewer incidences of stop-arm violations, it’s frightening to think we have this many drivers breaking the law and endangering our children,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “I would 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, 11 Georgia students have died when they were struck by motorists at the school bus stop.
Georgia’s survey is part of a nationwide effort by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) aiming to shed light on the dangerous habit of ignoring stop arms on buses. The data was collected May 3 by 140 Georgia school districts who volunteered to participate.
This year, NASDPTS reported that 88,025 stop-arm violations were recorded by nearly 100,000 school bus drivers in 28 states. Those sample results mean that during a 180-day school year, nearly 16 million motorists ignore buses’ flashing red lights and stop arms.
"We are so happy to partner with the Department of Education on this issue," said Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood. "This issue is a no brainer. Protect our kids. It's that simple."