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NC Highway Patrol and Department of Public Instruction Combine Efforts in Focusing on School Bus Safety

Oct. 15, 2012. In support of Operation Stop Arm week the State Highway Patrol will be aggressively enforcing stop arm violations and other traffic violations in and around school zones. The operation will be conducted from 6 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 15 through Friday, Oct. 19. The Patrol expects Operation Stop Arm will decrease violations and reduce school bus collisions. 

Across the state, troopers will be working school zones and others will be following the buses. Troopers will be driving marked and unmarked patrol cars during the operation. 

“We must protect our children from traffic dangers,” said Colonel Michael W. Gilchrist, commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. “The Highway Patrol will conduct this school bus campaign simultaneously in all North Carolina counties cracking down on stop arm violations. Motorists who try to pass a stopped school bus will be charged with the violation.”

Passing a stopped school bus is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, a person will receive five driving points on their driver’s license and is subject to fines up to $200. Passing a stopped school bus is a Class I Felony if the driver strikes an individual and a Class H Felony should the violation result in a death. 

“We must ensure our children’s safety as they travel to and from school,” said Reuben Young, secretary of the Department of Public Safety. “A child’s life should never be put in danger just to save a minute or two during a daily commute. That’s why we’re going to make sure people know the law as well as the consequences of breaking it.”

“On March 21, over 3,200 cars passed a North Carolina public school bus while stopped with red lights flashing and loading or unloading students. This is unacceptable! To provide assistance to our law enforcement partners, we have recently installed cameras on the outside of some school buses. The Nicholas Adkins Safety Act is clear that video evidence can be used to prosecute stop arm violations and we plan to help gather that evidence. But the best course of action is for drivers to act responsibly in the first place. Help keep our children safe! Parents and students – please have the conversation and know how to stay safe at the bus stop as well as walking to and from school and the school bus stop,” said Dr. June Atkinson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

In an effort to raise awareness among students and parents about pedestrian safety, the Department of Public Instruction worked with the Center for Urban Affairs at NC State and other partners to conduct the first “MAKING TRACKS” video competition. Students were challenged to focus on the important rules of pedestrian and school bus safety with the hopes of educating everyone on the dangers of failing to stop for a stopped school bus.

For further information concerning school bus safety and illegal passing please visit the Department of Public Instruction’s school bus safety web site at http://www.ncbussafety.org/.