Patience, preparation needed as back to school traffic begins

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 1:05 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s a vital reminder as students get ready for the start of school. Especially this year after all the changes because of the pandemic, it’s important to think about how you drive in school zones and neighborhoods.

In just two days, thousands of Savannah-Chatham County Public School System students will head back to the classroom, law enforcement officials and school leaders are asking you for caution as you hit the roads.

“We urge all motorists to slow down. The message is that schools are back open, buses are back on the road,” AAA Director of Public Affairs, Garrett Townsend said.

It’s been more than a year and a half since Savannah-Chatham schools have been open five days a week for in-person learning. With that gap, public officials are asking you to be alert and aware as the year kicks off.

District leaders say because of their bus driver shortage they expect more traffic near schools and an increase in students walking and biking to school. This has them pleading for your help to keep kids safe.

“It’s going to take all of us, and I need your help. I talked about earlier that extra layer of patience, that extra layer of consideration of others. When we open our schools, we need that in order to get successfully through it. So, I need your help it’s a shared responsibility we can do it, we’ve shown that we have the capacity to do it. We are a resilient community, let’s get out there and make sure our kids get to school safely,” SCCPSS Board of Education Police Department Chief Terry Enoch said.

Savannah-Chatham schools cover 426 miles and cover seven municipalities, but local law enforcement leaders say they will be patrolling and holding drivers accountable. The Georgia Office of Highway Safety says they too will be looking out for buses. They say back in 2019 there were 8,800 reports of cars illegally passing buses in a single day across the state.

“If you are on the same roadway as the bus, no matter which direction you’re going, if you’re on the same roadway you’ve got to stop when those lights are activated and that stop arm is out,” Georgia Office of Highway Safety Communication Director Robert Hydrick said.

As students return to school from the pandemic, officials also ask parents to talk with their students about safety including their teen drivers.

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