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Gridlock Guy: Despite popular thought, school buses actually can help the commute
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Gridlock Guy: Despite popular thought, school buses actually can help the commute

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.

Gridlock Guy: Despite popular thought, school buses actually can help the commute

One complaint that arises, as schools reopen every August, is about how commutes out of neighborhoods are significantly longer. School buses stop every so often and carpool lines at schools spill out onto and clog up major roads. Schools being in session no doubt impact the commute in many areas, reaching far beyond those school safety zones. The school calendar is arguably the biggest factor in the Metro Atlanta commute. But Georgia Commute Options says that the trick to a better commute is actually more buses. 

» RELATED: Gridlock Guy: This rule for sharing road with school bus just changed

National School Bus Safety Week just concluded and GCO has partnered with the National Association of Pupil Transportation to promote both of their initiatives: better commutes and safety. GCO managing director Malika Reed Wilkins, PhD., wants to encourage parents to start putting their kids on school buses, instead of driving them singularly to their schools.

“Our direct tie-in is about parents having their kids ride the bus,” Wilkins said. “It’s safer to ride the bus, actually 70 times more safe.”

Wilkins also said each school bus takes approximately 36 vehicles off the roadways, improving both the commute and air quality. And school buses provide more reliable arrival and departure times for our youngest commuters.

Each annual National School Bus Week has a theme or focus.

“This year is ‘My Driver, My Safety Hero,’ which focuses on those drivers that are transporting literally hundreds of thousands of students in the region on school buses every day,” Wilkins explained. Students choose the National School Bus Safety Week theme each year and this year’s winner is from Henry County. “It’s very near and dear to our heart that the winner of a national contest came right here from Georgia, so we’re even more excited about the promotion this year.”

» RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Your craftiness at the wheel may be making things worse

But school buses aren’t the only concern for GCO and the school commute. Wilkins said they are promoting carpooling, another option to reduce congestion in those constricted school zones. And if parents cannot find others with which to share the driving burden, GCO has a carpool-matching service.

Wilkins recommended that when parents bring their children to school, whether singularly or in a pool, to not idle in the carpool lanes. That pointless running of engines creates extra fumes that are bad for the surrounding environment and especially for the health of the kids. Teachers and other school employees that have to work that lane each day get the brunt of the extra exhaust, so their health should also be considered.

For parents or anyone that wants more information on Georgia Commute Options, the services they provide, and information on school buses and commuting, visit GACommuteOptions.com or find them on various social media. Wilkins sums the campaign up: “It’s really a win-win, in terms of promoting another commuting option and a safer way to get to school.”

» RELATED: Students safer, but some question school bus camera use

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

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