Here in Georgia, there are regulations that govern how drivers interact with and pass school buses. Because these laws protect young children, violating them has serious consequences.
As schools resume in the fall, reviewing these laws can help drivers prevent dangerous crashes and avoid legal issues.
Penalties for offenders
The consequences for an illegal pass vary based on the driver’s prior record. A first-time offense could result in fines as high as $300. Multiple violations can lead to increased penalties, with third-time offenders paying as much as $1,000 in fines. Judges can mandate community service and defensive driving instruction after a conviction. In some cases, offenders must serve up to a year in jail or on probation.
Although these laws may seem strict, they exist to prevent fatalities and protect children. Research suggests that victims of deadly crashes involving school transportation were 1.6 more likely to be pedestrians. Furthermore, 52% of these pedestrians killed in school transport accidents were children under the age of ten.
Rules for passing
All drivers who are on the same side of the road and moving in the same direction behind the school bus must stop when the bus stops. It is illegal to pass a bus from behind while it is picking up or dropping off children.
On a multi-lane road with a median or permanent barrier, drivers who are coming from the opposite direction as the bus do not need to stop. However, if the road is a two-lane street or a multi-lane street with no barrier or median, all drivers on both sides of the roadway must come to a stop.
In either case, it is essential to proceed with caution and reduce driving speed near buses. Additionally, drivers should be aware that many school buses have cameras and can photograph those who violate the rules.
Children who are exiting or entering school buses are particularly vulnerable. By following the laws and avoiding illegal passing, drivers can help keep young students safe.