What Georgia law says you should do when a school bus stops

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Until a new law took effect July 1, vehicles were required to stop when encountering a stopped school bus in an oncoming lane, except on separated roadways and controlled-access highways.

Last week, three siblings crossing the street to board their school bus in Indiana were struck and killed by a reckless driver who failed to stop when the bus' arm was extended. Another 9-year-old boy in Mississippi was killed as he crossed a highway to catch his bus.

» RELATED: Why a small change in Georgia law could create danger for students

In Georgia, passing stopped buses continues to be a significant problem, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August. A survey found that last year, 12,229 Georgia bus drivers reported 7,945 illegal passes on one day.

A new law that went into effect on July 1 further raised concerns about possible dangers for students. Previously, "it was understood that vehicles had to stop when encountering a school bus in an oncoming lane," AJC reporter Ty Tagami wrote. "But that rule is no longer in place when the opposing lanes are separated only by paint, according to the unofficial opinion issued by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr."

The previous legislation established an escalating fine going as high as $1,000. The new bill, HB 978, dropped the penalty to $250.

The AJC revealed in May that Gov. Nathan Deal signed the legislation into law despite the objections of most of the state's school bus officials.

» RELATED: Georgia's top lawyer confirms fears about change to school bus law

In lieu of last week’s string of related accidents, here’s what you should know about Georgia’s bus stop laws:

On a two-lane roadway:

ALL traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers. Once the bus starts flashing its red lights and its stop signs have extended from the side, it is unlawful for any vehicle to pass the stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading passengers.

On a two-lane roadway with a center turning lane:

ALL traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers. Once the bus starts flashing its red lights and its stop signs have extended from the side, it is unlawful for any vehicle to pass the stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading passengers.

On a four-lane roadway without a median separation:

ALL traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers. Once the bus starts flashing its red lights and its stop signs have extended from the side, it is unlawful for any vehicle to pass the stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading passengers.

On a roadway with four or more lanes and a center turning lane:

Previously: ALL traffic from both directions must stop when a school bus stops for passengers. After July 1, if there's either a concrete or grass median, or a turn lane, drivers traveling in the opposite direction do not have to stop for buses that are loading and unloading passengers.

On a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation:

Only traffic following the bus must stop when a school bus stops for passengers. According to the new state law, if there's either a concrete or grass median, or a turn lane, drivers traveling in the opposite direction do not have to stop for buses that are loading and unloading passengers.

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