By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 30, 2019
THOMAS CO., Ga. (WCTV) -- South Georgia schools and law enforcement are focusing on safety, as students return to classes as early as Friday.
Federal records show an average of 124 people are killed each year in crashes related to school transportation.
Thomas County Schools and local public safety are joining forces as classes start back on Monday.
Their busiest school zone is on the Highway 84 Bypass, where entrances for a high school, middle school, ad primary school are all located.
Local law enforcement and school bus drivers are warning people on the road, before more than 3,000 students flood the three schools.
"That first week. Oh my goodness. That first week is crazy. Everything is cluttered. It's crammed. If you ever make it through that first week, you're clear for the whole year," said Eric Harvey, a Thomas County school bus driver.
It's a time he turns to public safety to help stop dangerous drivers.
"We will be looking out for school buses," said John VanLandingham, GSP Post Commander. "We even have plans where we may have troopers riding on the school buses, so we can get tag numbers of people."
Sheriff's Deputies are also out managing traffic and preaching safety.
"It frustrates me to no end seeing that you're coming into a school zone, and even slowing for the school zone, but still putting on make up or eating that sausage biscuit while driving with your knee," said Capt. Steve Jones, with Thomas County Sheriff's Office.
They're making sure drivers abide the new school bus safety law.
It says traffic in every lane and on both sides of road must stop along with a bus.
"There is nothing more important than a child's life. I cannot stress that enough," said Jones. "If that red light is on that school bus that child is either getting on or getting off, either from the left side of the road or the right side of the road."
Public safety and school bus drivers starting Monday with a prayer and a promise.
"You see kids get safely home and you say thank you Lord. Then, you move onto your next stop and now this prayer starts all over again," said Harvey.
The Thomas County school system says they make around 2,600 bus stops in one single school day.