Georgia increases laws for bus safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia increases laws for bus safety

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

August 15, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It's not uncommon to see school buses stopped on major highways in South Georgia.

That's why it's so important to pay attention when you're driving, and that's why some school systems take extra steps to make sure you see stopped buses.

The Miller County bus crash on Thursday was a tragic reminder for South Georgia schools about what can go wrong.

"It's something to make all of us be more alert, to think about our community," said Jerome Smith, Sumter County Schools Transportation Director.

To prevent crashes, two years ago Georgia increased the level of protection buses need to alert other drivers that they're stopping. Buses need to have two stop signs and a safety bar.

"Some of the features now on the new model buses they have a big sign in back of the bus and it comes on and says stop so that feature has been added and as we get new buses that's being added to our fleet," said Smith.

In rural Lee County, Transportation Director Ricky Canterbury doesn't designate bus stops within 300 feet of a rise in the highway or a dangerous curve. In Sumter County new buses have LED lights that are more visible and both counties never allow students to cross a four lane highway to get on the bus.

"We do our best to make sure that the door of the bus in on the side that the child is coming onto the bus," said Smith.

While school district do what they can to keep their buses safe on the highways they say it's also up to drivers to obey the laws.

"If you get behind a bus, we're going to make a stop and you have to have patience, the key word is you've got to have patience," said Smith.

Many of the school systems say they have fewer buses on the highway because of fuel costs so that say it should be less of a hassle for motorists.

Sumter County schools also takes measures inside their buses to protect student's health. Buses are sanitized daily to prevent the possibility of MRSA.

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