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Lawmen target stop-arm traffic violators in Grady

Grady County has begun the fourth school term in a row without a serious school bus accident, but local school bus drivers continue to see stop-arm violations so school officials are issuing a warning to the driving public.
“We haven’t had a serious school bus accident in the last three years and, God forbid, we don’t want to have another. However, in Georgia since 1995, 11 school children have been killed,” said Grady County School System Operations Director Jerry Cox.
Georgia is in the midst of a “Stop Means Stop” campaign and officials are seeking to properly educate Georgia motorists about the potential for a deadly accident if a vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus while children are disembarking.
During a voluntary one-day survey in May, in which Grady County school bus drivers participated, there were 7,349 vehicles that illegally passed stopped school buses in the state’s 140 school districts that participated in the survey.
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.
Georgia law states: “The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped on the highway shall stop before reaching such school bus when there are in operation on the school bus the visual signals, and such driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.”
The Georgia State Patrol has aggressively enforced stop-arm violations and has been ticketing motorists in Grady County, according to GSP Post 12 – Thomasville Assistant commander Cpl. Jeromy C. Roberts.
Cpl. Roberts reminds motorists that 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.
However, the GSP assistant commander says that areas of U.S. 84 without a grass median and only painted lines is not considered a divided highway. Along those sections where there is no grass median, then all traffic must stop.
Cox says in addition to motorists obeying all traffic laws, another factor in school bus safety is the behavior of student passengers.
“Parents and students must understand that a school bus is an extension of the classroom and rules that apply at the school also apply on the school bus. Everyone should also remember that riding the bus is a privilege, not a right,” Cox said.
The operations director says that with school personnel, parents, students and motorists all working together to promote bus safety, the school system can maintain its streak of accident-free student transportation.

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