Columbia County parents want stricter penalties for illegally passing school buses; we take their concerns to state representative

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF)- It was a viewer video from a mom in Appling that has many people up in arms.

In the video, you can see a truck zooming past a stopped school bus, attempting to let a child off the bus.

Once we aired it, our Facebook page was flooded with comments stating stricter laws need to be in place.

We took those concerns to State Representative Jodi Lott.

“The laws in Georgia are clear. Everybody should know them. Buses are big, they’re yellow, they have flashing lights,” said Lott.

But some drivers aren’t obeying the laws.

Lott says other parts of Georgia are working to be vigilant when it comes to catching offenders.

“In Atlanta, I know over the past couple of years, they’ve started using cameras on their buses,” said Lott.

Lott says something similar could make it’s way to our area..

“But then it becomes a budget issue…we need to budget for such a thing,” said Lott.

Lott says it would be more beneficial if the current law was enforced more consistently- you illegally pass, you pay a $300 fine.

But, Columbia County Deputy Stephen Mobley says it’s easier said than done.

“If we don’t have video evidence, like the bus driver can take video, but we can’t issue a citation unless we have video evidence,” said Mobley.

All the more reason, Lott says, to get cameras on buses. Mobley says they do try to go where the crimes are being committed.

“In an area where we know that a lot of cars are passing the buses, we will do what’s called a concentrated patrol where we go out and actually watch,” said Mobley.

But, Columbia County is big and there are a lot of buses on the roads.

Deputies say they can’t be everywhere at once.

So, until there are eyes on the road at all times, enforcing the law can be a bit tricky.

That means drivers need to do their part when it comes to the safety of children.

NewsChannel 6 wants to keep the conversation going.

Currently, Columbia County bus drivers are filling out surveys to take to the state and national level to push for harsher legislation.

So, what are your ideas?

Head to our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WJBFNewsChannel6/, click on this story and share your thoughts.

Maybe our local delegates will see them.

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