Georgia’s first lady visited Baker Place Elementary School Tuesday to promote school bus safety among motorists.
Sandra Deal stopped at Baker Place as part of a statewide tour for the “Stop Means Stop” campaign, launched by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and Georgia Department of Education.
The program is designed to educate Georgia 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 children 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 from the book.
“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 of a school bus can continue only if a median or barrier separates the traffic lanes.
According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, data collected voluntarily by some statewide school districts during a one-day survey in May showed that 7,349 vehicles illegally passed school buses.
Since 1995, 11 student fatalities have occurred in Georgia when motorists failed to stop for a school bus, said Carlton Allen, 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 convicted of breaking the law can face a maximum $1,000 fine, six points recorded on their driving record and license suspension for those 21 and younger.
To spread the campaign’s message, 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.”