School starts next week in Bryan County, meaning those big yellow buses will be back out on our streets and highways, carrying our community’s most precious cargo, its children.
There also will be hundreds, if not thousands, of local parents who opt to drive their kids to and from school, and dozens of school zones where motorists will be expected to slow down.
It’s all part of the yearly routine that will run from now until next May as some 8,300-8,500 kids get to and from nine campuses.
And if past experiences are any indication, there will be a few hiccups early on as drivers and school officials get acclimated to the challenge of a new school year, because in a growing community such as ours there are usually more kids and new routes each year, and no matter how much planning one does, nothing ever works quite as well as on the job training.
So, our advice is to give school officials time to work out whatever bugs there might be. They tend to be pretty good at this.
Still, there’s a chance there will be plenty of traffic congestion near schools — particularly on 144 in Richmond Hill.
Speed limits in school zones will likely be strictly enforced — and should be — and it’s the responsibility of know and obey laws concerning stopped school buses.
Remember, on two lane roads without a median, all traffic in both directions must stop when school buses are stopped and have their signs out. That same rule applies on four lanes with no median divider.
Further, when there’s a two- or four-lane road with a center turn lane, like that on 144, then all traffic from both directions must stop for stopped school buses.
Like speeding in a school zone, which can lead to fines of up to $1,000, passing a stopped school bus can be costly. It involves a mandatory court appearance, a fine of up to $1,000, six points on one’s driving record and drivers under 21 convicted of passing a stopped school bus will have their license suspended.
That’s Georgia law.
School buses remain one of the safest forms of transportation in the country, but that’s not to say there aren’t accidents — including a fatality here in Bryan County in 2013 when a 5-year-old boy was hit by a pickup after he got off his school bus in North Bryan.
The boy died. The life of the teen driving the pickup was forever changed. It’s a tragedy and no one wants something like that to ever happen again.
So remember, pay attention and watch out for kids.
And let’s all have a great school year.