School’s Starting: Know the Laws and Safety Guidelines for Driving Near Buses and in Zones
Albeit a bit different in fall 2020 than in other years, school is once again starting and buses rolling on city streets and county roads. It’s time for drivers to revisit road rules regarding school buses and safety precautions for school zones.
With frequent stops, passengers exiting, and erratic speeds, school buses represent a challenge and hazard to other drivers on the road. Between 2007 and 2016, the National Highway Traffic Administration recorded almost 1,300 deaths in 1,147 fatal accidents involving school buses. Twenty percent of those who died were pedestrians or bicyclists while 70 percent were occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash.
When driving behind a school bus, leave extra space. It’s best to leave at least three car lengths between you and the bus. If on a highway, allow even more space. If you are stopped near a school bus, leave 20 feet between your car and the bus.
In Georgia, all drivers are required to stop when approaching a bus that has its lights flashing, and is loading and unloading passengers. This applies to all roadways, from two, four or more lanes, including those with center turn lanes. The only exception is for a highway divided by a median strip, where only cars traveling the same direction as the bus are required to stop.
You must remain stopped until the bus has started again or deactivates its warning lights and signals – and all loading and unloading passengers have cleared the road.
If caught passing the bus, you could incur a ticket, fine, points off your license and possible mandatory appearance in court depending on the county in which you committed the infraction. Some counties have placed cameras on buses and check the recordings for license plates of offenders. Don’t take chances; slow down and obey school-bus-related traffic laws.
Watch out when driving through a school zone. In Georgia, a school zone is defined by the Department of Transportation as an area within 1,000 feet of the boundary of any school. Most school zones have slower speed limits around start and stop times. These speeds and the times are usually posted on nearby road signs. Georgia law allows for the use of cameras to catch speeders who are traveling 10 mph or more over the school zone speed.
When driving near a school or through a designated zone, take these extra precautions:
- Always be on the lookout for pedestrians — on sidewalks, in crosswalks, around driveways, and in intersections.
- Avoid being on your phone.
- Allow yourself extra time if you know you will be driving through a school zone.
- Beware of your pedestrian blind spot. When turning, watch for pedestrians by corner posts or that might be hidden by your windshield frame. Also be extra cautious when backing up or out of a driveway anywhere near a school.
While fall 2020 might be a mix of online and in-person classes, buses are rolling and buildings are open. School bus and zone laws apply. Stay aware and follow the law.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at The King Firm
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident involving a school bus, you might be eligible for compensation. At The King Firm, our team of personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to pursue the best possible results in your case. Contact us today at 229-515-8585 for a free case consultation.
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