Stephen Hasner | Georgia Law | May 29, 2021
During the summer, there are not as many school buses on the road. However, there are some because students attend summer school and other functions. We are accustomed to seeing yellow school buses in urban and rural areas throughout Georgia during the school year.
These large vehicles transport precious cargo. They carry children to and from school, on field trips, and to and from other school functions and activities. Even though school buses are large, bright yellow, and equipped with flashing lights and a stop sign, drivers do not always stop for school buses.
Georgia Laws Require Drivers to Stop for a School Bus
In February of 2019, stricter laws went into effect in Georgia requiring drivers to stop for school buses. The new law removed the problems with the previous law that allowed drivers to pass a stopped school bus if they had a painted turn lane between their vehicle and the bus. Passing a stopped school when children are entering and exiting the school bus could lead to a tragic bus accident.
Therefore, lawmakers revised the school bus law to ensure that drivers must stop for a school bus, even on multi-lane roads. The goal was to protect children and avoid bus accidents.
Georgia drivers must stop for school busses on:
- Two-lane Roads – ALL traffic traveling in ALL LANES must stop when a school bus stops for children.
- Two-lane Roads with a Center Turning Lane – ALL traffic traveling in ALL LANES must stop when the school bus stops for children, including vehicles in the turning lane.
- Four-lane Roads Without a Median Separation – ALL traffic traveling in ALL LANES must stop when the school bus stops for children.
- Roadway of Four or More Lanes with a Center Turning Lane – ALL traffic traveling in ALL LANES must stop when a school bus stops for children, including vehicles in the turning lane.
- Divided Highway of Four or More Lanes with a Median Separation – When there is a median separating the lanes of traffic, only vehicles traveling in the same direction of the school bus must stop when the school bus stops for children.
In most cases, you must stop for a school bus whenever the driver signals a stop with the flashing lights and the stop sign. The only time you may continue moving is when there is a median separating your lane of traffic from the bus.
What Are the Penalties for Passing a Stopped School Bus?
If you illegally pass a stopped school bus, you could face penalties, such as:
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Up to 12 months in jail or probation
- Court appearance
- Six points on your driving record
- License suspension if you are under 21 years of age
You may also be required to pay a civil penalty of $250 or more if the Stop Arm Camera catches you passing the school bus. A judge could impose other penalties if they believe the penalties are necessary to discourage the behavior in the future.
Who is Responsible for School Bus Accidents?
School buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road. Even so, parents should talk with their children about school bus safety and the steps they must take to avoid injuries and accidents on school buses.
Even though school buses do not have seat belts, the construction of the school bus protects children in the event of an accident.
Still, accidents involving school buses do happen, and children are injured and killed. Accidents might occur when the bus is in motion or when it is stopped for passengers. In some cases, children are struck and killed when a driver illegally passes the bus, rear-ends the bus, or runs into the sidewalk where children are waiting.
One or more parties could be liable for damages caused by a bus accident. Potentially liable parties might include:
- Motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians
- School bus drivers
- Private schools or companies that operate school buses
- School districts and governing bodies
- Bus and parts manufacturers
- School bus maintenance companies
- The owner of the school bus
- Road construction companies and municipal road crews
Negligence, human error, and carelessness are often factors in a school bus accident. A personal injury lawyer can investigate the cause of the school bus crash to identify the parties who are liable for the victim’s damages and injuries.
Children May Sustain Catastrophic Injuries Because of a School Bus Accident
Injuries on school buses might occur because of a traffic crash. However, a student may also be injured while entering and exiting the bus or riding the bus.
Injuries that a child might sustain on a school bus include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Soft tissue injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Back and neck injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Facial injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Scarring and burns
If you have questions about a school bus accident, talk with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Protect your child’s legal right to fair and just compensation after a school bus accident.