MACON, Ga. — The Bibb County Schools Transportation Department is checking to make sure all 156 of their buses are ready for the first day of school, and they want to be sure that you know what to do when you see one on the road.
Bibb County Bus Route Supervisor James Blanding oversees all the bus drivers in the district, and he's making sure they're all ready for another school year.
"They have to come in, raise up the hood, look under the vehicle, check the tires, make sure everything's in place before they depart the premises," Blanding said.
Blanding says drivers routinely check their buses for maintenance problems to make sure they're safe.
Even then, they can't always predict what could happen with other drivers on the road.
"Being a driver for the first year that I worked here, that was one of the challenges that I noticed most, is when the lights start flashing, many motorists would try to get by the bus or past the bus before they have to stop," Blanding said.
"Yellow lights are typically activated about 200 feet from an actual stop," Bibb County Schools Transportation Director Anthony Jackson said.
Just so we're all on the same page, Ryan Renner with the Georgia Department of Public Safety clarifies what the law requires you to do when you see a school bus stopping.
"If you had a highway like Gray Highway that does not have a physical separator -- it's just a center turn lane -- if a school bus were to stop, to load or unload children with the lights flashing, if you met a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, they would have to stop," Renner said.
The law is different for highways with a physical barrier.
"A grass median, a concrete barrier wall, and you're coming the opposite direction and a school bus is stopped on the other side with the lights flashing, you would not be required to stop," Renner said.
Jackson says when in doubt, if you see school bus lights flashing, it's always a good idea to slow down.
"We just continue to put the word out, public service announcement to motorists we share the road with to be cautious and to be patient when they see the school buses," Jackson said.
Jackson says their drivers transport more than 11,000 students each school day, and that's just in Bibb County.
Sgt. Renner says school bus traffic violators could be fined and have points on their license.