Sandra Deal is on a statewide tour for the “Stop Means Stop” campaign, launched by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and Georgia Department of Education. It is designed to educate drivers about the laws pertaining to passing school buses.
“We believe that there are people who just don’t know the rules,” Deal said. “No one would kill a child on purpose. No one wants to live with that sadness, that guilt.”
Deal read a book to second-graders that stressed bus safety tips. She urged the class to tell their parents, siblings and anyone they know what they learned.
“I need you to be teachers,” she said to the pupils. “We’ve got to let everybody know how to be safe.”
Georgia law requires that motorists traveling in both directions must stop when a bus activates its stop-arm. Motorists driving in the opposite direction can continue only if a median or barrier separates the lanes.
According to the highway safety office, data collected voluntarily by some state school districts during a one-day survey in May showed 7,349 vehicles illegally passed school buses.
Since 1995, 11 students in Georgia have died because motorists didn’t stop for a school bus, said Carlton Allen, the director of pupil transportation for the state’s education department.
“With nine deaths over the last three years, we have a serious problem,” he said.
Drivers who break the law can face a maximum $1,000 fine, six points recorded on their driving record and license suspension for those 21 and younger.
Deal also toured schools in Harris, Dougherty, Bibb and Bulloch counties on Monday and Tuesday.
“We want all parents (and) all people who drive in this state to know that they must stop when they see the stop sign go out on the bus,” she said. “We ask that everybody try their best to send out the word all over the state, because we want to protect our children.”