New law in Georgia changes when drivers have to stop around school buses
A change in Georgia's law regarding school buses took effect in July has some parents concerned for their students' safety.
Now, in some scenarios, drivers in the Peach State can pass a school bus even when the stop arm is deployed.
When you see a school bus stopped, with the sign and lights on, most know what they're supposed to do. Many people learned even before they earned their license, you stop for school buses. But now, that's not always the case.
"It does surprise me, I didn't know that until you told me today, I always stop and always expect other people to stop," said Noelle Maxwell, parent.
On July 1st, GA House Bill 978 went into law and its impact is two-fold; it allows automated speed traps in school zones and amended the law for passing school buses.
"You have a turning lane or something of that nature dividing those lanes in between the two then you can continue passing the bus as long as you're traveling in the other opposite direction," explained Officer David Saylors with Dalton Police Department.
Put simply, if there's a center turn lane and you're traveling in the opposite direction, you can now pass a bus. However, drivers behind buses still have to stop.
Since the law went into effect, Dalton police have worked to educate the community on the change so someone used to the old law doesn't cause more problems.
"They don't stop and they rear end the car in front of them and cause a crash because they were doing what the law allows them to do," he said.
Across the state line in Tennessee, the law remains the same, there must be a barrier or median in order to lawfully pass a bus, which can be confusing for some.
"People want to pass the bus when they're not supposed to anyways before they changed the law there's always somebody in a hurry that's going somewhere that's going too fast and the kids having to cross the street and getting off the subdivision, it's definitely concerning for sure," Maxwell said.
Last month in Mississippi, not even a grass median could stop a driver from slamming into a school bus. It's why parents say no matter what the law says, they have one message for drivers.
"Think about if these were your kids or your nieces or nephews or grandkids? Take the extra five minutes and leave a little earlier and just watch out for kids and the buses, just pay attention to where you're at," Maxwell said.
We looked into the numbers in Dalton, police there said they have not seen an increase in traffic violations around school buses.
This law went into effect the same time Georgia's hands-free law on July 1st.