Back-To-School Means Georgia Drivers Must Exercise Greater Caution
Back-To-School After Winter Break Means Georgia Drivers Need to Exercise Greater Caution
Back-to-school after the New Year can be an exciting time of year for many children in Georgia. Students are excited to be reunited with their favorite teachers, friends, and have new experiences. However, back-to-school, after the winter break, is also the time of year when drivers need to exercise the greatest caution when driving near buses, bus stops, and in school zones. After a couple of weeks off from morning bus routes and paying close attention to children, it is easy to lose some focus and become complacent as a motorist. That is why motorists must be ever vigilant and anticipate that a young child might do the unpredictable.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has previously distributed an important safety press release which urged drivers to "put safety first" as students return to school. GDOT reminds motorists to watch out for children darting out between cars or running to catch a bus. GDOT also counsels drivers to watch out for crowded bus stops. These areas can be particularly dangerous, especially when children and parents congregate on a corner. The group of people can obscure a driver's vision. Also, parents who are dropping their children off at the bus stop create a visual obstruction. Although these situations can be frustrating, especially considering that morning commutes become longer because children have returned to school, drivers must slow down and summon as much patience as they possibly can.
GDOT offered a reminder about the rules of the road relating to school buses. First, drivers must be aware of flashing lights that indicate that an operator has entered a school zone. Motorists should be aware of crosswalks, crossing guards, and anticipate a child might run out into the street when driving in a school zone. Additionally, drivers must obey school zone speed limits. Slowing down to obey these low limits can add to the misery of driving, the careful, considerate driver will do so anyway. Slowing down allows the driver to have as much reaction time as possible if something goes wrong.
Drivers should be reminded of the rules when driving near a school bus. Motorists must stop when a bus driver activates the flashing red lights. Even drivers coming the in the opposite direction must stop when the bus extends the stop arm unless they are on a divided highway with a grass or concrete median in the center. Drivers opposing the direction of travel of the bus might think they can safely pass despite the command of the rules of the road. Children often ignore risks and run into the road to get to their parents eagerly awaiting their return from school.
The youngest school children are at the highest risk for becoming victims of school-related accidents. Children 4 to 7 years of age have the highest risk of being hit by a motorist who ignored the stop commands of the bus or of the bus hitting the child while departing the bus stop. Overall, more children are struck by motor vehicles near schools than anywhere else.
Bearing those harsh realities in mind, GDOT offers some advice to drivers who "get stuck behind a bus." GDOT advises drivers to increase their distance from the bus in front of them because a zone of about ten feet around the bus is the most dangerous for children. Giving extra space will allow for children to be safer getting on and off of their bus.
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