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School buses breaking the rules of the road | News

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School buses breaking the rules of the road
School buses breaking the rules of the road

ATLANTA -- Every day, Georgia school buses transport more than a million students, with two of the largest fleets in the country operating right here in the Atlanta area. So we wondered, "How safe are your children when they step on a school bus?"

We conducted Open Records searches to get a handle on driver safety. We discovered that school bus drivers, like the rest of us, are not immune to getting tickets.

MORE | School bus violations county by county

We requested red light camera tickets and moving violations for bus drivers in five school districts in the Atlanta area, including Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton Counties as well as Atlanta Public Schools.

We found examples of buses running red lights and obtained the video to go along with some of those violations.  We also discovered other serious infractions, including a hit and run involving a DeKalb School bus, Atlanta school buses involved in accidents and buses in Cobb and DeKalb Counties cited for speeding, some in school zones.

"Are we happy? No we're always looking at how we can constantly improve," said Gwinnett County Public Schools spokesperson Sloan Roach.

Gwinnett County School buses ran 7 red lights, two by the same driver in less than a month.

"Because they're driving a bus it comes to us and we then track down that driver, " Roach said.

Drivers are required to pay their tickets and receive extensive training throughout the year. In some school districts, too many tickets, can mean termination.

It's difficult to make comparisons between school districts, because they all track driver histories differently.

"Oh yeah they're strict, they're strict on tickets, oh yeah," said DeKalb County School bus driver, James Porter.

He got a warning for speeding last year but was cited for 'Following Too Close' after striking another vehicle.
DeKalb County Schools requires all its bus drivers to turn in any traffic violations they receive, which is how we got copies of the violations.

Other school districts like Atlanta Public Schools and Gwinnett do driver history checks with the Department of Driver Services. 

However, Gwinnett County Schools provided us with copies of red light camera tickets.  Atlanta Public Schools gave us copies of accident reports where their drivers were cited for being at fault.

Overall the number of moving violations was small when compared to the thousands of buses and drivers and number of miles traveled.

From, January 1 of 2011 to September of this year, DeKalb County provided 53 moving violations, Cobb had 13, Fulton 10, and Gwinnett gave us 7 red light camera tickets, and Atlanta Public Schools turned over 33 accident reports involving their drivers.

All of the school districts provide driver training and follow up safety courses when their drivers are given a moving violation. Drivers are also subject to termination for numerous offenses. 

You can do your part. If you see a school bus breaking the rules of the road, take down the number and call police, because safety is a serious matter.

The good news is accidents involving school buses continue to decline. According to numbers provided by the State Superintendent of Schools, there's been a decline in school bus accidents over the last 3 years.

2009 2,470 accidents statewide were reported to GaDOE 
2010 2,173 accidents statewide were reported to GaDOE 
2011 1,858 accidents statewide were reported to GaDOE