Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. Based in Gwinnett County, he handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Call him for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585.
Today marks the final day of National School Bus Safety Week for 2017. We should all be fully aware of Georgia laws protecting our children who ride the bus to and from school. Title 40, Article 8 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated specifically addresses school buses.
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163 sets forth the law applicable to drivers of motor vehicles when meeting or overtaking school buses. The first two subsections provide:
“(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, the driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped on the highway shall stop before reaching such school bus when there are in operation on the school bus the visual signals as specified in Code Sections 40-8-111 and 40-8-115, and such driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.
(b) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus which is on a different roadway, or upon a controlled-access highway when the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.”
The sum and substance of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163 is that drivers of motor vehicles must stop prior to reaching a school bus regardless of whether approaching from the front or rear with the few limited exceptions detailed in the statute. Those exceptions are (1) when there are separate roadways (when there is a raised or defined median where cars cannot cross) and (2) when on a controlled-access highway (such as interstates or other major highways with exit and entrance ramps) when the school bus is stopped in a loading zone that is part of or adjacent to the roadway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross. This may be somewhat confusing, but the law is actually very clear: even on the major thoroughfares we have all around Atlanta such as those that have two lanes going in each direction with a center turn lane in the middle, cars going in both directions must stop for a school bus (even if you are on the far opposite side of the road basically four or five full lanes away!). Center turn lanes are not medians no matter how big a road is and all vehicles must stop.
A violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163 can be enforced by the State of Georgia through a criminal or a civil penalty, and it can also be the basis for showing negligence on the part of the violator should a child be injured or killed. The law puts six points on the license of any violator who is convicted criminally, which is the highest level points assessment used by the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-160, 40-6-161, 40-6-162, 40-6-164, and 40-6-165 all set forth laws applicable to the drivers of school buses. Violations of these sections can result in criminal penalties for the bus driver, but also can be the basis for a civil claim or can help to support a negligence claim in the event a child is hurt or killed based on the actions of the bus driver. Please talk to your children about safety waiting for, loading, disembarking, and crossing in front of school buses. School bus injuries are preventable if bus drivers and all other drivers on the roadway follow the law, but parents and educators should also teach children safe habits relating to school buses.
If your child has been injured in an accident related to a school bus, contact attorney Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.
The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.