SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — As parents and kids begin to return to the classroom – state officials and the Fulton County school district are coming together to remind motorists about safely navigating roads with school buses.
According to state transportation officials, drivers illegally passed school buses more than 7,800 times on any given day on Georgia roads. That statistic can have deadly consequences for students.
“That averaged to 1.4 million times a school bus was illegally passed in Georgia based on a 180-day school year," said Allen Poole of Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
According to the National Safety Council, 108 people died in 2021 in school bus-related crashes. In that same year, 9700 people were hurt.
On Thursday, drivers were given a refresher course in sharing the roads with buses to avoid adding to the statistics.
“Pay attention to your surroundings," Lt. Anthony Hudson of the Georgia Department of Public Safety said. "Give yourself extra time to get from point A to point B. Also, slow down in school zones. It takes us all to work together to make the road safer for our kids."
But it's not just commuters that state and school officials are hoping to reach in order to keep the roads safe for kids during the school year.
The school district is now using two state-of-the-art simulators to train drivers in real-world scenarios.
“So we can bring them in here, sit them in the seat, look at the controls. Then we can do some great things like defensive driving skills or some range skills to get some of those points to the drivers," said Jennifer Knapp of Fulton County Schools.
According to Knapp and her team, Fulton County Schools is the first district in Georgia to acquire this technology and use it for driver training.
All drivers in the district will have the chance to train on the new system.
The district is the state’s fourth largest and spans about 71 miles. This means having safer bus drivers on the road could make a world of difference for Fulton County's youngest residents.
Classes start on Monday, Aug. 7.