Students heading back to school mean drivers need to be more alert


As school doors open we can expect more buses and cars on the road transporting kids who need an education.  

This week we took you on a bus ride along to make sure students had the safest riding experience.  But part of back to school safety requires you, the driver, do your part to ensure kids are not in danger while commuting. 

A team of education and motor safety leaders gathered at Harlem Middle School to send a strong message to drivers as school starts. 

“When that yellow light goes on, that does not mean press the gas to the floor and pass the bus.  That means this bus is about to stop and you need to do the same thing,” warned Harris Blackwood, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director. 

Law enforcement joined the Columbia County School District and AAA – The Auto Club Group to help push one message; Drive Carefully.

“We have had days where we monitor how many people pass stopped school buses and it is in the thousands,” Blackwood said. 

Part of careful driving means you have to slow down.  That means obeying road signs that alert you of school zones and pedestrians.  The Transportation Research Board estimates about 100 children are killed each year while they walk to or from school.  About  25,000 are injured.  

Columbia County School District Assistant Superintendent Penny Jackson told the group drivers need to watch out for kids who are not paying attention. 

“If they miss the bus, they don’t need to try to catch up somewhere else because they’re going to be running, they’re going to be trying to get to the next bus stop and they’re just not cognizant of what the surroundings might be,” she explained. 

Jackson wants to make sure parents remind students to wear light or reflective clothing because bus stops can be dark.  And we hear it all the time, but look both ways before you cross the street.   She cautions parents to be aware of construction zones that may hold up traffic. 

She added, “Every single parent is going to want to bring their child to school.  It’s the first day, the first week.  

Captain John Cook with Department of Motor Carrier Compliance told the group, “Watch your speed.  Don’t be a distracted driver.  And report any unsafe driving behaviors.”

And putting the cell phone down, and slowing down will go a long way to keep students safe according to Garrett Townsend, AAA GA Public Affairs Director.

“Going 25 miles an hour or less gives a person an opportunity, if they were to come into collision with a vehicle, gives them a greater opportunity to survive, perhaps with just injuries.”  He added that going above that could result in a fatality. 

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