Local News

Bus safety among top concerns as school year begins

Posted August 21, 2014

— Kassie McCollum is getting ready to send her nephew back to Daniels Middle School, and she's thinking about bus safety - especially the danger from drivers passing stopped school buses.

“They know children will be getting off the bus, and they need to be careful,” she said.

School bus safety is a major concern among parents and administrators alike as the traditional school year begins next week. State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson joined state troopers at Combs Elementary School in Raleigh on Thursday to remind drivers that ignoring a stop-arm is illegal and dangerous.

The state says 13 children have been killed since 1999 by drivers who did not stop while students were getting on or off their buses.

In just one day, North Carolina bus drivers counted more than 3,000 people illegally passing stopped school buses.

Atkinson says there's one simple rule for drivers to remember: “When you see a yellow school bus, be prepared to stop. Slow down, and make sure you are aware of your environment.”

Atkinson says parents also need to take some time before class starts to make sure students remember one basic rule.

“Look to the left, look to the right, then proceed across the road or the street,” she said. “Do it not only one time, but two times.”

State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata echoed Atkinson’s concerns, saying keeping students safe is a priorty.

“We urge students to be careful when crossing the street and drivers to do their part by keeping a close eye on students who are getting on or off school buses, as well as students and teachers who are walking to and from school,” he said.

North Carolina has stiff penalties for drivers who fail to comply with school bus safety rules.

  • There is a $500 penalty for anyone caught passing a stopped school bus, with the possibility of license revocation.
  • There is a $250 penalty for speeding in a school zone.
  • Passing a stopped school bus can cost drivers five points on their driver’s licenses and eight points for commercial vehicles.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation launced the “Watch for Me NC” campaign to raise safety awareness. Learn more online.


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  • Harrison Bergeron Aug 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Opposing traffic does NOT stop on roadways wider than 4 lanes.

  • Imma Annoid Aug 22, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    There aren't stats on how many accidents were caused by cars having to adjust their speed and lanes because of the bus.

    Often, during or near rush hour(s), you see a car behind a bus trying to get over and when they finally do, it's a dangerous situation until they get up to speed. Basically you have 2 vehicles going at 45 MPH or just above next to each other and trailing traffic has to slam on the brakes.

    As a result, maneuvering around the bus causes the Traffic Domino Effect, backing up traffic or causing unnecessary stops/slowdowns which result in accidents.

    See link below:
    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/accidents-hazardous-conditions/traffic1.htmBuses are a hazard irrespective of whether they get in an accident on the Interstates as they cause traffic problems that later lead to accidents.

  • Forthe Newssite Aug 22, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Actually I think they used to have this law but did away with it. Even though they are now allowed on interstates I think most of the accidents around busses are on streets and roads, not interstates.

    I kinda like the idea of the rear arm but I have also never seen anyone stopped for passing a bus.

    Half the folks around here don't know that there are some areas when you CAN pass, but they are less of an issue than those who think the rules don't apply to them

  • busyb97 Aug 22, 2014

    While I don't think it's right, I wonder how many of those 3000 illegal passings occur on the 4-5 lane city streets, where the passing car(s) is on the other side of the road from the bus, with a turn lane in the middle. (I'm thinking like Hwy 401 in N.Raleigh) Yes- I know you should stop- no matter how many lanes- unless there is a PHYSICAL MEDIAN (grass, concrete, etc) between the sides of the road, but I would bet most people do NOT know that. I had to look it up because I wasn't sure. Many of us, when we started driving 20+ years ago, there weren't roads like that to deal with. You had two lanes, maybe 4- but it was clear.... See a bus, STOP. Now, with these huge roads, the bus is 5 lanes away from you, so they don't realize they still have to stop.

    No excuse, but just sayin.....

  • Imma Annoid Aug 22, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    And if it malfunctions and kills an innocent person? What then?

    Not to mention the costs.

    Besides, what problem are you trying to solve here? Less than 1 kid a year has been killed since 1999. How many kids have died playing football? More than

  • Imma Annoid Aug 22, 2014
    user avatar

    If they were so worried about bus safety then they would not let buses that can on go 45 MPH on Interstates where the speed limit is 65 MPH and most folks are going 70-80 MPH.

    Pass a law prohibiting buses on roads where the speed limit is 65 MPH or higher.

  • Just another bad guy Aug 22, 2014

    With online classes, buses and school buildings should be a thing of the past.

  • pipcolt Aug 22, 2014

    Put a crossing arm like a RR crossing arm that lowers on the back bumper of the bus and make sure it is about windshield height so when it is deployed it will shatter the glass when a car passes the stopped bus. Makes it easy for police to locate the law breaker.

  • LocalYokel Aug 22, 2014

    WRAL mentions the rate of illegal activity, the penalty, and the impact to society with children dying and fear but what's being done about it? How many of those 3000 drivers a day get a citation?

    Sounds like there are organizations we pay for public safety that don't do their job. I think enforcing traffic laws and protecting us from bad drivers is one of the most basic, critical, and beneficial things a group responsible for public safety can do. Oh, and feel free to use technology from the 21'st century to enforce these traffic laws.