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The start of a new school year means that children once again will be rising early to catch the bus to school. Parents who see their kids off to the bus stop in the morning should not have reason to worry about their child’s safety.

However, there seems to be a nationwide epidemic that is putting students at risk at the bus stop.

Drivers around the country not stopping for school buses

Since 2018, several drivers have been disregarding the outstretched stop signs that school buses extend when picking up or dropping off students. And there have already been quite a few close calls for students in Georgia this year. Fox5 Atlanta reports that police cited 44 school bus violations in August alone, besides the recent incident where a truck nearly hit a 15-year-old girl as she crossed the road to get on the bus.

And this epidemic is not just in Georgia. Students are facing risks across the country, from Houston to St. Paul. 

Why is this happening so frequently?

Most drivers know that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus. But many sources agree that more drivers are disregarding school buses for one simple reason: they are more distracted.

Over the last decade, the rate of distracted driving has increased exponentially. Although many states, like Georgia, have passed hands-free laws to prevent distracted driving, there are still many drivers who continue the dangerous habit.

However, there could be another reason for the increased risk in Georgia, specifically. Last year, lawmakers changed Georgia school bus laws. They removed the condition that allowed vehicles to pass school buses as long as there was a physical barrier between the vehicle and the bus, such as a median.

Then, in February of this year, the law changed back to its original terms. The back-and-forth legal changes might have caused more confusion for Georgia drivers.

Parents: Talk to your children about bus safety

It is a motorist’s responsibility to drive defensively and be on the lookout for pedestrians. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises parents to talk with their children about how they can stay safe on the trip to and from school–as both passengers and pedestrians. It could make all the difference in the face of this new danger they face.