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Officials urge caution as school buses reclaim streets
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Law enforcement officials are urging drivers to obey traffic laws as the familiar sight of yellow school buses repopulates the roads today.

Gainesville Police Department spokesman Cpl. Joe Britte said bus drivers are inclined to try to note and report violators of one of the roadway’s most important, and severe, laws governing school bus safety — not passing a stopped school bus.

“More than likely the bus driver will get a tag number and report you,” Britte said.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chad Mann said some drivers mistakenly think they only have to stop if they are in the lane behind a bus letting kids off, and not the lane going the other direction.

“Traffic should come to a halt on both sides every time a school bus stops,” Mann said. “The only exception is if there’s a concrete barrier or median in between the lanes of traffic.”

Mann outlined the legal penalties that passing a stopped school bus can rack up.

“In Georgia, there is a mandatory court appearance, up to a $1,000 fine, up to 6 points on one’s license, and a conviction under (age) 21 constitutes a suspended license,” he said.

Before attempting to pass a school bus, or resuming their commute in the opposite lane, drivers should wait until the flashing lights on school bus stop signs are off, Mann said.

He also reminded drivers to defer to other laws that keep school buses, and other drivers, out of harm’s way.

“It’s even more crucial in the morning. That’s when you have the most distractions; people eating, putting on makeup, on their cellphone, texting — which is completely against the law. Put it down and wait,” he said.

In addition to drivers on the road, Britte issued a safety reminder for kids and parents walking to bus stops.

“As drivers become more aware because there will be many children out walking, children should be paying attention to the roadway as well,” he said. “As far as parents walking (their children) to bus stops, they should walk in groups — safety in numbers. Walk on sidewalks, stay on the sidewalks and stay out of the street.”

He also advised kids to look both ways as they get off the bus, and report any problems or concerns on the bus to the driver, or bus monitor.

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