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OUR VIEW: Start of school brings reminder to be cautious around buses

The buses you saw driving through your neighborhood late this past week were making test runs. The real thing starts on Tuesday, when more than 172,000 children will attend the first day of classes at Gwinnett County Public Schools.

The school system, Georgia’s largest, expects 3,200 new students this year. Two new schools are opening — Northbrook Middle in Suwanee and North Metro Academy of the Performing Arts, a charter school located in Norcross. The additions mean that this year GCPS will operate 77 elementary schools, 27 middle schools, 19 high schools, five charter schools and six special entities.

That’s a lot of schools and a lot of students, a fact you will likely notice during your commute to and from work. With school beginning, we remind you to use caution, watching out for the school zones and buses in your area.

Danny Jardine, chief operations officer for GCPS, said this past spring GCPS bus drivers conducted a one-day count of vehicles that passed stopped buses. They counted approximately 2,200 violations in just one day.

Said Jardine: “This information puts this issue in perspective for us, pointing out the need to educate our community on when it is safe to pass a bus and when it is not.”

Through a press release, GCPS shared how drivers should handle different situations in regard to school buses:

Two-lane roadway: When a school bus stops with its amber or red lights flashing, ALL traffic from both directions must stop.

Two-lane roadway with a center turning lane: When a school bus stops with its amber or red lights flashing, ALL traffic from both directions must stop.

Four-lane roadway without a median separation: When a school bus stops with its amber or red lights flashing, ALL traffic from both directions must stop.

Roadway of four lanes or more with a center turning lane: When a school bus stops with its amber or red lights flashing, ALL traffic from both directions must stop.

Divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation: When a school bus stops with its amber or red lights flashing, only traffic following the bus must stop.

The Gwinnett school district continues to negotiate with the company REDFLEX to install stop arm cameras on about 300 GCPS buses. Originally, the cameras were to be installed this past August but snags with the contract held it up. When cameras are installed, the photos they take of vehicles passing buses illegally will lead to fines.

However, those fines and accidents involving school children and buses can be avoided by obeying the law. So as another school year begins, please use caution around school buses and help make the roads safer for everyone.

The unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Columns, letters to the editor and cartoons reflect the opinions of the individuals who penned them. It is the policy of the Gwinnett Daily Post to correct all errors of fact.