New changes approved for school bus safety bill

ATLANTA — In the first bill that he’s signed into law, Gov. Brian Kemp approved a fix for a law that potentially puts every kid in Georgia who rides a school bus in danger.

Channel 2's Richard Elliot was in the governor's ceremonial office when Kemp signed the bill early Friday morning.

Lawmakers thought the bill was so important, it soared through the House and Senate and was designed to go into effect the very second Kemp signed it into law.

“Republicans and Democrats recognize that swift action was needed on this issue, and when it came to insuring the safety of families and our children, I’m proud to say we all have stood together,” Kemp said.


Lawmakers tweaked the school bus stopping law last year but somehow didn’t catch language in it that suddenly made it legal for oncoming traffic on highways divided by only a turn lane to keep driving, even when a school bus stopped to let off kids.

Georgia State Patrol Col. Mark McDonough said that was dangerous.

“In some of our rural communities, you know, the bus runs a route that child is crossing potentially all the way across that roadway,” McDonough said.

It didn’t take long for people to let lawmakers know they’d goofed.

“Immediately, one of my directors of pupil transportation reached out to me and said, ‘Oh, y’all have made a fatal error,’” state Sen. Bill Heath told Elliot.

When the legislature went back into session this year, fixing that error became one of the first things they wanted to do.

“This was a team effort from the General Assembly, law enforcement, educators and concerned citizens to do the right thing and help some kids' lives,” Kemp said.