Approximately 14,100 school buses travel North Carolina highways daily. On average, they transport 794,950 children to and from school. Most motorists that meet school buses stop as required by North Carolina law. However, nearly 3,000 motorists disregard school bus stop arms each day in North Carolina.
To promote traffic safety around schools, school buses, and school bus stops, the State Highway Patrol will conduct Operation Stop Arm during the week of October 18–22 in conjunction with National School Bus Safety Week. Troopers will be participating by patrolling school zones, conducting “Follow-A-School Bus” activities, and aggressively enforcing violations of NC General Statute 20-217(a) which is passing a stopped school bus while the bus is displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights and the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers.
When motorists must stop for a stopped school bus:
- Two-lane roadway – All traffic from both directions must stop
- Two-lane with a center turning lane – All traffic from both directions must stop
- Four-lane roadway – All traffic from both directions must stop
- Four-lane roadway with a median – Only traffic following the bus must stop
- Four or more lanes with a center turning lane – Only traffic following the bus must stop
Passing a stopped school bus is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, a person will receive five points on their driver’s license and is subject to fines up to $500. 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 death. For further information concerning school bus safety and illegal passing, please visit the Department of Public Instruction’s school bus safety website at ncbussafety.org.
Enforcement projects such as this are aimed at increasing awareness and gaining voluntary compliance of the motoring public.
The mission of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is to promote excellence in traffic enforcement through a commitment to the safe and efficient flow of traffic, crime reduction, and response to natural hazards and manmade threats. This will be accomplished through government and community partnerships and based upon our core values of loyalty, integrity, and professionalism.