Clarification of Georgia Bus Rule Causes More Confusion
ATLANTA, GA. – August 23, 2018 (11alive.com) As reported online by 11alive.com, the Georgia Legislature’s attempt to clarify a rule on buses has caused even more confusion for drivers in the state, and some critics say it places students at risk.*
The issues surrounding the law pertain to when drivers need to stop for school buses that are letting children off. Originally a bill only about cameras in school zones, HB 978 underwent changes in the Senate regarding school bus stopping laws.
“The language was requested because there had been an unequal application of the existing law across the state,” said State Rep. Christian Coomer, of Cassville, Georgia. “In some places, the law was being read in such a way that people on divided highways were being cited for not stopping if the school bus was on the opposite site of the divided highway.”
Coomer said this type of enforcement was not consistent with the intent of the law. “We know across the state that school buses are organized in such a way that children are picked up and dropped off on the same side of a divided highway as the bus is traveling,” he said. “So you won’t have a situation where the child is being let off the school bus and then directed to travel across multiple lanes of traffic on a divided highway to get home.”
Georgia law formerly exempted drivers on a highway divided by a grass or concrete median from stopping for school buses on the opposite side of the highway. The new law says drivers on the opposite side of any divided highway, including by a center turning lane, do not have to stop. The clarification has caused some people to wonder what “divided highway” means, and school officials think it might place students in danger.
“In my role as leader of the Georgia Department of Education, I maintain my position that this change in law does not reflect best practices to ensure student safety and could endanger Georgia’s kids as they travel to and from school,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods.
Because of the confusion and concerns, legislators will likely readdress the law in their next session.
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