By Cade Parian, a personal injury lawyer of The Parian Law Firm, LLC.
This past summer the Georgia legislature changed the law for drivers approaching school buses. Now that school is back in full force, it is important that all drivers review the new law, and know exactly when they should stop and when by law, they do not have to.
In the past, all drivers had to stop for a school bus any time a bus was stopped, engaged the stop arm, and turned on the red flashing lights. The only exception to this was if there was a physical median separating the different lanes of the road. The median can be a concrete partition, a patch of grass, or even just a large area of dirt. Now however, turn lanes are also considered to be like a median, meaning that drivers traveling in the opposite direction of a loading/unloading bus are not required to stop if such a lane is present.
It is also important that drivers are aware that the law covers not only when vehicles must stop for school buses, but also how long they must stop. When students are embarking the bus, all students must be on the bus before vehicles can proceed. Typically at this time the stop arm will be retracted and the flashing lights will turn off. Additionally, when students are disembarking the bus, vehicles must remain stopped until all students are 12 feet away from the road. Most often, drivers that wait for children to reach the sidewalk can then continue to move if the lights are no longer flashing on the bus.
At no time can vehicles behind a school bus pass if the bus’ red lights are flashing. This, however, is no longer the case for vehicles traveling in the opposite direction if there is a physical median or turn lane.
Laws are meant to clarify what is and what isn’t permissible. Don’t be surprised if Georgia drivers become more confused by the turn lane exception. In addition, allowing a small turn lane to act as a physical median may not be enough to keep the state’s children safe.
Cade Parian is a personal injury lawyer at The Parian Law Firm LLC. Located in Carrollton Georgia, Cade handles cases including car accidents, bus accidents, and product liability. He can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.