On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
73°
Overcast
H 85° L 70°
  • cloudy-day
    73°
    Current Conditions
    Overcast. H 85° L 70°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 85° L 70°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    80°
    Evening
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 85° L 70°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Gridlock Guy: The old school bus passing law is back this school year
Close

Gridlock Guy: The old school bus passing law is back this school year

Drivers Will Now Lose Their License If They Illegally Pass School Bus Under New Canadian Law

Gridlock Guy: The old school bus passing law is back this school year

Outside of the Hands-Free Georgia Act changes in 2018, the road rule that seems to draw the most confusion from “Gridlock Guy” readers is about passing school buses. In 2018, Georgia legislators essentially liberalized when oncoming vehicles could pass stopped school buses as a concession for allowing automated cameras to catch violators. The new rule went into effect last July 1st - the same day as the stricter distracted driving rules; it lasted less than eight months. 

» RELATED: Legislators take aim at school bus law they say endangers students

On February 15th, 2019, newly inaugurated Governor Brian Kemp signed a revision into law that brought back the tougher regulations for oncoming vehicles. The 2018 law had eliminated the need for a raised or grassy median to be in place for oncoming vehicles to pass a school bus with its stop arm extended. Very simply, the 2019 revision has brought back that requirement for a center divider. This was Gov. Kemp’s first signing in his new post: in with the new, in with the old.

The 2018 law change had caused confusion, as drivers on busy roads still continued to stop in the opposite direction of buses. Then groupthink persisted. When some people stopped unnecessarily, others stopped also, so as to not have appeared to be in violation. The herd caused people to doubt their own knowledge of the laws. It was a mess.

One reader wrote in to describe this mess on Highway 9 in Roswell during morning drive. They, of course, were hoping that people would obey the 2018 version of the law and that traffic would start moving better. Alas, now people again must stop on any road that doesn’t have some sort of median divider.

Child safety was the main concern of advocates for this reversion. Although school buses normally offload their precious cargo on the same side of the road as the actual stop, vehicles speeding by at 35 mph or more in the opposite direction seemed to be a recipe for disaster.

Gov. Kemp’s Senate Bill 25 signature put the rule changes into effect immediately. So the rules actually got stricter in the middle of the spring semester. But the new school year warrants both a reminder of this change and a grander focus on school-zone safety this month.

With 56 million children heading back to school, AAA again launches their “School’s Open — Drive Carefully” campaign. Pretty straightforward, right? The auto safety organization’s data shows that afternoon driving in school zones may require even more attention: nearly a third of all child-pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. One factor in this is likely that roads are simply busier when school adjourns than when it starts each morning. Nonetheless, this is a sobering statistic.

“We are aware of the risk to children in and around school zones,” says Sasha Marcinczyk, Georgia Field Vice President, AAA — The Auto Club Group, on why AAA has championed this campaign since 1946. “If Georgia motorists slow down and stay alert, they can save lives.”

That notion is certainly why the first of AAA’s seven safety tips is about watching school-zone speed. Pedestrians hit by vehicles at 25 mph (the normal school-zone speed) are two-thirds more likely to survive being struck by a vehicle than at 35 mph. If that stat doesn’t prompt someone to drive with an egg shell under their throttle, none will.

Other AAA back-to-school driving safety tips including eliminating distractions behind the wheel, being extra careful when driving in reverse, reminding teenagers of driving risks (crashes are the number -one killer of teens and most occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.), coming to complete stops at stop signs and lights, and watching for bicycles.

AAA also reminds people to also be on the lookout for its School Safety Patrollers. Around 654,000 school children in this program help remind commuters, parents — and other students — to be mindful of each other and safe. Sometimes schools are hidden atop hills or around curves, so Safety Patrollers with their bright yellow or orange belts really stand out and remind those passing by that they are in a school zone.

Whether around buses or schools, we all have a responsibility to keep children and each other safe. Remember in most cases that vehicles must stop around loading buses. And don’t forget the importance of minding speeds and distractions near schools. A small change in speed or a small lapse in attention can be the difference in life or death. 

» RELATED: Excitement, fear abound as some metro Atlanta schools open

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 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.

Read More

News

  • An off-duty volunteer firefighter is being hailed as a hero after he rescued a baby while swimming at a Maryland park. According to the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department, one of its firefighters, Andrew Bell, heard a woman shouting as he swam at Swallow Falls State Park while off-duty on Sunday.  'A raft that a baby was floating on had flipped over, and the baby went into the water,' the department said in a Facebook post Sunday night.  Bell quickly found the baby, who was unconscious, the Cumberland Times-News reported.  'I put it on its back for a little bit, and it started spitting up water,' Bell told the newspaper.  Bell then called an ambulance and continued to help the family until rescue crews arrived, the Fire Department said. 'It's our understanding that baby is going to be OK,' the department added. 'Great work, FF Bell!' Bell told the Times-News that even though he wasn't on duty at the time of the incident, it was still his 'duty to go help that person.' Read more here or here.
  • A PGA golf pro, his son and two stepchildren were among the eight people who died in an Idaho plane crash Sunday, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to KPTV, Oregon residents Sean Fredrickson, 48; son Hayden Fredrickson, 16; and stepchildren Sofia Olsen, 15, and Quinn Olsen, 11, were killed Sunday afternoon when two planes collided over Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene and crashed into the water. All eight people on the two planes died in the crash, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office said. Authorities said Fredrickson and the children were on board a Brooks Seaplane piloted by 58-year-old Neil Lunt of Liberty Lake, Washington, at the time of the crash, the Spokesman-Review reported. Officials have not yet identified a sixth person who also was on the plane.  The two people on board the other plane, a Cessna TU206G, have been identified, but officials have not publicly released their names, according to the Spokesman-Review. As of Tuesday, crews were still working to recover two of the victims' bodies, the newspaper reported.  Fredrickson, the Pacific Northwest PGA Section's president, was the lead golf pro at Oregon's Oswego Lake Country Club, according to KPTV. “A rising star in the PGA, Sean led the Section through an unprecedented time, first taking the reins a year early as president and then leading us wisely through this pandemic,” the Pacific Northwest PGA Section said in a statement. “We are all better because of Sean’s leadership over the past 12 years.” Fredrickson's wife, April Fredrickson, told KPTV that her family 'died while they were on an adventure.' 'I think that, at the end of the day, they died doing what they loved, which was ... being together,' she told the news outlet. Read more here or here.
  • Atlanta police released a new video and surveillance photos from its investigation into the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl. According to WSB-TV, Secoriea Turner was shot while riding in a car with her mother and her mother’s friend Saturday night. The shooting happened not far from the Wendy’s on University Avenue where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed last month. The video shows a Black man in a white shirt carrying what police identified as an AR-15. Lt. Pete Malecki said the man is just one of several persons of interest in the case. “We believe there is going to be a minimum of three additional suspects. That number could change,” he said. “Although we have a lot of work to identify the remaining individuals responsible, this is the first step in that process.” Investigators said Secoriea Turner was riding in a Jeep Cherokee Saturday night when the driver tried to get around a “makeshift roadblock that was manned by numerous armed individuals.” Malecki said they believe the shots were fired intentionally into the car. At a news conference Sunday, Secoriea Turner’s mother said that her daughter died in her arms. “She was only 8 years old,” Charmaine Turner said. “She would have been on Tik Tok dancing on her phone, just got done eating. We understand the frustration of Rayshard Brooks. We didn’t have anything to do with that. We’re innocent. My baby didn’t mean no harm.” Secoriya Williamson, Secoriea Turner’s father, also spoke out. “They say Black lives matter,” Williamson said. “You killed your own this time. You killed a child. She didn’t do nothing to nobody.” Police are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Secoriea Turner’s killers. Information can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.StopCrimeATL.com. Hours following the police news conference, the community came together for a prayer vigil.
  • A 17-month-old girl was killed in a pit bull attack last weekend during a Fourth of July party in Illinois, authorities said. According to The Associated Press and WMAQ-TV, the incident occurred early Sunday in the bedroom of a family friend's Joliet home. The toddler, whose parents were attending a holiday gathering at the residence, was in a playpen when two dogs somehow got free from the basement, Joliet police said. After hearing a noise, the homeowner went into the bedroom to find one of the two dogs – both pit bull mixes – biting the child, the AP reported. Authorities responded to the home shortly before 1:30 a.m. and found the girl unresponsive with multiple bite wounds, the Herald-News reported. Crews rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she later died. The Will County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Marley Wilander, according to the newspaper. The dog is now in the custody of Animal Control, police said.  – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. was hospitalized briefly after suffering a fall last month at a Maryland country club, a Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed Tuesday night. Roberts, 65, required an overnight stay, The Washington Post reported. Roberts suffered the fall June 21 at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland and required stitches, the newspaper reported. He was released from an area hospital after staying overnight for observation. “The Chief Justice was treated at a local hospital on June 21 for an injury to his forehead sustained in a fall while walking for exercise near his home,” Kathleen Arberg, public information officer for the Supreme Court, said in a statement. “The injury required sutures, and out of an abundance of caution, he stayed in the hospital overnight and was discharged the next morning. His doctors ruled out a seizure. They believe the fall was likely due to light-headedness caused by dehydration.” Roberts experienced seizures in 1993 and 2007, the Post reported. Roberts has not publicly mentioned the hospitalization.
  • Mary Kay Letourneau, a Washington state teacher convicted of having sex with her 12-year-old student 23 years ago and later marrying him, died of cancer Monday, her attorney said. Attorney David Gehrke said Letourneau was 58. Letourneau was teaching at Shorewood Elementary School in Burien when she raped her sixth-grade student, Vili Fualaau, in June 1996, KIRO-TV reported. Police discovered Letourneau and Fualaau, then 12, in a minivan parked at the Des Moines Marina. Letourneau said the boy was 18. The two were taken to a police station and later released. At that time, Letourneau was a married 34-year-old mother of four. On Feb. 25, 1997, following a tip, police interviewed Fualaau. Letourneau was pulled out of a teacher’s meeting and arrested for statutory rape. In August 1997, in an agreement with prosecutors, Letourneau pleaded guilty to child rape in exchange for a 3-month jail sentence and probation. Judge Linda Lau accepted the deal on condition that Letourneau have no contact with Fualaau. By that time, Letourneau had given birth to a girl fathered by Fualaau. Letourneau and Fualaau were married in Woodinville on May 20, 2005. after she was released from prison. At that time, Letourneau was 43 and Fualaau was 22. Fualaau filed for separation in 2017, and a divorce was finalized last year. The couple had two children together.