Red means stop!! Bus stop offenders caught on tape

Bus stop offenses an issue in Georgia. / Jessica Fairley

As parents prepare to send their children back to school, motorists are warned to adhere to the rules of the school bus.

Back in April, school officials statewide and locally participated in a survey to document the amount of people who run the school bus stop sign in one day.

The final tally of offenses is enough to give any parent reason to fear.

More than 6,800 cars statewide illegally passed a school bus when the stop arm was down and 105 of those offenses were in Dougherty County.

"There are actually laws, state laws that I think a lot of people have forgotten about," said Clinton Johnson, Dougherty County Commissioner.

When you think about laws of the road, the stop sign is the easiest of them all to remember, yet still many cars keep going.

FOX 31 participated in a two day sting to get a first-hand glimpse of how drivers put the lives of children at risk. The actual footage can be seen in Thursday night's 10:00 p.m. show.

As the bus made stops to drop off kids, the majority of drivers followed the law and stopped when the hand went down.

However there were those who sped up to beat the stop sign and others who blatantly disregarded the blinking signal altogether.

"Last school year we had two fatalities during the loading and unloading process within the state," said Carlton Allen, Director of Pupil Transportation for the Georgia Department of Education.

This brings the total number of child fatalities in the state of Georgia to 11 over the last four years. For three years in a row the state led the nation in school bus loading and unloading fatalities.

Officials say fortunately the peach state won't lead in fatalities for the 2012-13 school year but there's still work to do.

"There have been a couple of times that an accident almost occurred where a person tried to go around the bus," said Clinton Johnson. "Either they just didn't know or didn't care that students were going in both directions."

Johnson witnessed this because he frequently rides a route, acting as a buffer between the cars and the children.

Local and state officials say people forget that the school bus is painted yellow for a reason; yellow means caution and red always means stop.

"Only time that there is an exception where a motorist wouldn't have to stop for a school bus is if there is a grassy median or a concrete wall or barrier between the lanes of traffic," said Carlton Allen.

Although bus drivers and monitors take precaution to protect children, it's up to the public to do their part.

"With all the responsibilities that the driver has in ensuring that the students get off the bus, often times the driver won't be able to get the license plate of the perpetrator," said Kenneth Williams, Director of the Dougherty County School System Transportation Department.

Williams say it's up to the public to police themselves, remembering that there are lives at stake and the stop signs simply means what it says, stop.

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