Tuesday, July 30, 2013
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COVINGTON — Troopers from Georgia State Patrol Post 46 covering Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties will be actively patrolling Newton County roadways in the next few weeks as motorists once again become accustomed to traffic associated with students headed back to school. The 2013-14 school year begins Friday.
SFC Doug Wilson, post commander, said he is urging drivers to exercise caution when traveling in school zones and around school buses. He is especially concerned with the areas of Crowell Road and Jack Neely Road where students, buses and faculty will be entering and exiting the new Newton High School.
“Motorists should always be attentive when driving around a school bus and observe the posted speed limit in school zones,” he cautioned.
School zones are marked with flashing lights or posted hours for reduced speeds.
“During the school year, troopers routinely patrol school zones watching for violations that can result in fatal crashes,” he said, adding that fatal crashes involving school buses occur most often when the driver of a smaller passenger vehicle strikes a school bus. “We urge drivers to leave more space around school buses and do not cut them off in traffic.”
State troopers also keep a close watch for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. Georgia law requires vehicles to stop when overtaking or meeting a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading passengers. Drivers traveling in both directions should stop for a school bus that is displaying its red stop lights and has the stop arm activated. The only exceptions are on a controlled-access highway or when the highway is divided in separate roadways. After stopping, the driver may proceed only when the school bus resumes motion or when the flashing lights are no longer activated.
Wilson also cautioned that students waiting at bus stops may not always be alert to dangers around them. “Drivers should be prepared to stop when approaching children waiting for a school bus, especially in early morning hours when visibility is reduced,” he said. “A conviction for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus carries six points on your driving record. For drivers under the age of 21, passing a stopped school bus will result in a six-month suspension of your driver’s license.”