School is back in session in Dawson County which means children are headed back to the bus stops and school buses are back on the roads to transport students in the mornings and afternoons.
With the addition of heavier traffic during those times, it also means more children are crossing streets and roadways to get on the bus.
During the 2019 General Assembly, Senate Bill 25 took effect Feb. 15, reversing a controversial change in state law approved last year that allowed motorists more leeway to pass stopped school buses.
For years, the law only allowed motorists traveling in the opposite direction of a school bus stopped along a four-lane roadway to pass when a median (grass, concrete, etc.) was in place.
But a law passed in 2018 (as part of broader legislation that included capping fines for illegally passing a school bus at $250 per instance and gave local governments the authority to establish cameras in school zones to catch speeders) changed this.
It said that if a four-lane road has a center turn lane dividing each direction of travel, then motorists can legally pass a stopped school bus.
Senate Bill 25 effectively reversed the 2018 ruling immediately.
The current bus laws in Georgia are as follows:
Two-lane roadway and two-lane roadway with a center turning lane: When school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.
Four-lane without a median separation: All traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers.
Roadway of four lanes or more with a center turning lane: All traffic from both directions must stop for a school bus stopping for passengers.
A divided highway of four lanes or more with a median of separation: When school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.
Fines and penalties for illegally passing a school bus includes a fine up to $1,000, a possible court appearance, six points on driving record and a license suspension for a conviction of a driver under the age of 21. If a stop arm camera catches a driver illegally passing a stopped school bus, the fine is a $250 civil penalty.
Times reporter Joshua Silavent contributed to this report.