An unnamed Dawson County student was dangerously close to being hit while standing at a bus stop last Friday.
The incident occurred near the intersection of Highways 53 and 183.
If I had been distracted for half-a-second, I may have hit that child, said Dawson County resident Kevin Lindley, who was on his way to work when the near-miss occurred.
The child was standing on Highway 183 close to the roads white line and was wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt and black backpack, according to Lindley.
For the third consecutive year, Georgia leads the nation in the number of school bus fatalities, according to survey published earlier this year.
It was about 7:15 in the morning, and I was on Highway 183 heading into town, about one mile back from Highway 53, said Lindley. This child was standing nearly in the road, and I almost hit him.
Lindley added that the stretch of Highway 183 from McKees Chapel to Highway 53 is especially dangerous.
Theres about six families waiting for bus pickup there, he said. The really scary part is we have a lot of semi-trucks coming along the road and those trucks barely fit.
I dont even want to think about what could happen. We have a lot of rural routes with no lights whatsoever.
The Kansas State Department of Education (DOE) published its annual National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey earlier this year.
The final report reiterated that two of the nine students killed as pedestrians as they got on or off the bus lived in Georgia, according to the report.
Kansas 2011-12 survey found that the Georgia fatalities involved a 17-year-old girl killed by a passing vehicle as she crossed in front of her school bus, and an 11-year-old boy who was attempting to catch his school bus after initially missing it on its first pass. He also was struck by an oncoming vehicle, the report stated.
If a child misses their bus, they should not try to run to the next stop, said Jim Rich, director of transportation for the Dawson County School System. Please dont let children do that. This has been how some accidents have happened. The drivers are not expecting that.
Rich also said children must stand back 12 feet from the road and wait for the bus driver to signal them that it is safe to step into the roadway.
We see a lot of kids left alone and parents can help us by taking time to talk to their children about school bus safety, he said.
School Superintendent Keith Porter said he appreciated the efforts being made to inform the public about school bus stop safety.
In some cases, we have very small children waiting for the bus each day near busy roads, which is truly a concern, he said. It is our hope that the public will be aware of the dangers and respond with great vigilance each day during morning and afternoon hours when our buses are on the roads.
There is always an element of unpredictability involving young children, and we would never want one of them to be harmed.
Porter added that bus drivers stress the importance of staying back from the road and not playing in the bus stop areas.
The bus drivers are very good to speak to the children if they see problems, or let the parents or school know of situations of danger, he said.
For Lindley, taking action was the next step. He purchased dozens of reflective tape strips and dropped them off at the News & Advertiser office. Parents may call the office at 706-265-2345 to reserve a reflective strip for their child. The sticky strips can be placed on the childs backpack or on a spot in the driveway 12 feet back from the road.
Id have to hang up my keys if I ever harmed a child, said Lindley.
School bus drivers are authorized to report vehicles that have improperly passed them, according to georgia.gov/bussafety. The errant driver will be fined $300 for the first offense, $750 for the second, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense during a five-year period. Law enforcement will send the fine by mail within 10 days, and the fine will indicate the time, date and location of the violation.
A conviction for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus carries six points on your driving records, and for drivers under the age of 21, passing a stopped school bus will result in a six-month suspension of your drivers license, said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.