THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - As students are back in the classroom this week, or getting ready to return back on Monday, Georgia State Troopers are stressing the importance of bus safety and back to school traffic.
"When we hear a school bus wreck come in, your heart kind of sinks, because you just don't know," said GSP Post 12 Post Commander, Tommy Peeples.
Georgia State troopers are out on the roads this week paroling school zones, making sure drivers didn't forget the rules of the road over the summer.
"We're also patrolling the back roads and highways, where school buses are making stops, to make sure motorists aren't passing the school buses illegally," said Peeples.
From now until May, Troopers said between 6:30 to 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., drivers should be cautious for school buses on the road, and students walking to and from school.
Troopers said be cautious of your speed. On city streets, the maximum speed for a school bus is 40 miles per hour.
Also, pay attention, and keep your eye out for bus stops, where children are waiting on the side of the road.
Lastly, When the school bus stop signs come out, JUST STOP. If the yellow lights come on, don't try to go around the bus.
"We will not issue a warning for a stop sign violation of a bus, it won't happen. It's a very expensive fine, and it carries six points on your driver's license, so it's a major violation," said Peeples.
All of this is in hopes that students will arrive and return home from school safely each day. Statewide, troopers responded to 300 school bus accidents with injuries last school year.
"That's extremely high," said Peeples.
Thomasville's GSP Post 12 worked one bus accident last year in Grady County that injured 31 Decatur County students.
Valdosta Post 31 worked 15 school bus accidents with injuries. Of those crashes, 53 injuries were reported and there was one fatality, a 15 year old Lowndes County student.
"It's difficult to work a scene where a child has been killed. It's something we see, but we will do all we can do to prevent," said Peeples.
In some school districts across South Georgia, bus drivers have a form they can fill out and return to the sheriff's office, to report drivers who don't obey the school bus laws. Some are getting cameras.
Last year, Thomas County deputies had several forms turned into them.
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