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Georgia first lady touts bus safety

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal visits Alice Coachman Elementary School in Albany Monday to promote the state’s “Stop Means Stop” campaign to educate Georgia’s motorists about the potentially deadly issue of illegally passing stopped school buses. Harris Blackwood, the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, who accompanied Deal, said that since 1995, 11 Georgia school children had died as the result of being struck by vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses.

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal visits Alice Coachman Elementary School in Albany Monday to promote the state’s “Stop Means Stop” campaign to educate Georgia’s motorists about the potentially deadly issue of illegally passing stopped school buses. Harris Blackwood, the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, who accompanied Deal, said that since 1995, 11 Georgia school children had died as the result of being struck by vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Citing the deaths of 11 school children since 1995, Georgia first lady Sandra Deal and Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood brought their school bus safety campaign to Alice Coachman Elementary School Monday.

The "Stop Means Stop" campaign seeks to educate Georgia motorists about the potential deadly issue of illegally passing stopped school buses that are either picking up or discharging children.

"We've had 11 fatalities of children since 1995 and three in the last five years alone," Blackwood said. "That's too many."

During a voluntary one-day survey in May, data collected by school districts statewide showed that 7,349 vehicles illegally passed school busses in a total of 4,222 incidences. The numbers were likely higher because not all of the state's 178 school districts with bus programs turned in data.

"We want to protect our children at all costs," Deal said. "If we can prevent fatalities we should do so, and that is why we are here today.

"The safety of our children is a top priority."

Georgia law states: "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, and such driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated."