Back to school traffic will begin today

With nearly a dozen school systems starting back on Thursday, the Georgia Department of Transportation urges drivers to exercise caution and maintain a 10-foot buffer around school buses. AJC file photo

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With nearly a dozen school systems starting back on Thursday, the Georgia Department of Transportation urges drivers to exercise caution and maintain a 10-foot buffer around school buses. AJC file photo

The two months of summer vacation are drawing to a close as the first round of students in metro Atlanta are heading back to school on Thursday.

Barrow County, Cherokee County, Cobb County, Decatur City, Forsyth County, Henry County, Marietta City, Newton County, Paulding County and Walton County all begin classes on Thursday.

For commuters that means more traffic, increased congestion and the need for extra safety precautions. From school buses loading and unloading, to kids walking and biking, to parents dropping off and picking up - dangers abound.

As back-to-school gets into full swing, Georgia DOT shared safety tips and urges caution – especially in and around school zones, buses and children.

Pay attention to school zone flashing beacons and obey school zone speed limits.

Obey school bus laws.

  • Stop behind/do not pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If the lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, opposing traffic must stop unless it is on a divided highway with a grass or concrete median.
  • Watch for students gathering near bus stops, and for kids arriving late, who may dart into the street. Children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

According to the National Safety Council, most children who lose their lives in school bus related incidents are four to seven years old, walking and they are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.

If you are driving behind a school bus, increase your following distance to allow more time to stop once the lights start to flash. The 10-foot area around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Stop far enough back to give them space to safely enter and exit the bus.

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