With Paulding County schools now in session, the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office reminds drivers to remain alert when driving in school zones or around school buses to ensure the safety of children who are being transported or walking on the county’s roadways.
A grim reminder is the accident in front of Paulding County High School this week in which a 13-year-old girl remains in critical condition. She was attempting to cross Ga. 61 when she was struck by a car.
Paulding Sheriff Gary Gulledge says deputies will be patrolling school zones as a part of their daily operations.
They also will be watching for drivers who fail to stop for school buses that are loading or unloading passengers.
Gulledge reminds drivers that Georgia law requires them to stop in both directions for school buses that are displaying their red flashing lights and have the stop arm activated.
Exceptions are controlled-access highways or when the highway is divided into separate roadways.
After stopping, drivers may proceed only after the school bus resumes motion or the safety lights are no longer activated.
Deputies with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (H.E.A.T.) unit urge drivers to use extreme care and to leave more space when traveling around a school bus, especially when following a school bus.
“Drivers who are following school buses too closely are not prepared for the frequent stops made by the school bus,” Gulledge noted. “Drivers should always use extreme caution when following school buses and obey the posted speed limits in the school zones.”
The majority of fatal crashes involving school buses occurred when the school bus was struck by a smaller passenger vehicle, he added.
Gulledge reminds drivers that a conviction for unlawfully passing a school bus carries six points on a driving record. “A conviction for passing a stopped school bus also carries a six-month suspension of your driver’s license for drivers under the age of 21,” he added.
He also reminds drivers to be alert for children waiting for the school bus, especially during the early morning hours when visibility is reduced.
“Children are not always aware of their surroundings or vehicles that may be passing by and the dangers that they pose,” he said. “Drivers should be prepared to stop when approaching children that are waiting for a school bus.”