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Georgia School Bus Laws

Posted in Bus Accidents on June 10, 2021

We all see school buses on the road and likely have the same thought – “Please do not stop while I am behind you.”

Even though riding behind a school bus can sometimes be an inconvenience, the reality is that there are very strict laws in the state of Georgia concerning how drivers react and respond when a school bus is on the roadway. Here, we want to guess what the law says about how drivers are supposed to respond depending on the type of roadway drivers are operating on.

When You Have to Stop for a School Bus

When we look at the law in Georgia related to school buses (O.C.G.A. §40-6-163(a)), we can see that the language is very specific about the duty drivers have when encountering a school bus on the roadway. The law says that, “…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.”

In other words, after a bus has stopped with flashing lights and activated stop signs, it is illegal for any vehicle to pass the bus. However, it can get confusing to understand when a driver is required to stop and when a driver is not required to stop depending on the type of roadway. We can summarize the laws about when a driver is required to stop with these points:

  • If a school bus stops for passengers on a two-lane road, traffic in both directions must stop.
  • If a school bus stops for passengers on a two-lane road with a center turning lane, traffic in both directions must stop.
  • If a school bus stops for passengers on a four-lane road with no median, traffic in both directions must stop.
  • If a school bus stops for passengers on a four-lane road where there is a turning lane, traffic in both directions must stop.
  • If a school bus stops on a divided highway with four more lanes and a raised median or other physical barrier in the middle, only traffic going the direction of the bus is required to stop.

Penalties for not Stopping for a School Bus

Georgia lawmakers have continually increased the penalties a person can face for passing a school bus illegally. We will find that police officers never issued warnings for this type of violation – it will always be a citation.

Unlawfully passing a school bus is charged as a misdemeanor offense, and the consequences can significantly impact a person’s life. This can include up to 12 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, community service requirements, defensive driving school requirements, and other conditions.

In addition to these criminal penalties, the unlawful passing of a school bus will result in six points being added to a person’s driver’s license. For any person under the age of 21, accumulating four or more points on a license will result in a license suspension. Drivers over the age of 21 will have their license suspended if they accumulate 15 or more points during a two-year time frame.

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