New 6-foot stop arms part of mission to keep students safe
Posted March 28
Fayetteville, N.C. — The circumstances are different in each case, but there is a united mission across the state to keep kids safe as they board the school bus.
A pilot program in six counties, including Cumberland, is aimed at making stopped buses more known to drivers. A six-foot stop arm, which extends into the next lane, has been installed to make the buses more visible.
Wendy Lewis drives bus 667 for Luther Nick Jeralds Middle School in Fayetteville. She has been driving for years, and said she has had some close calls with drivers.
"They drive by, they run it and keep going," said Lewis. "They don't even stop, knowing good and well I'm stopping to put a kid off. They run it anyway."
On Monday, a teenager was hit and killed by a car in Onslow County while attempting to board the bus that had its stop arm extended.
Lewis said her bus is now equipped with the longer stop arm.
"It's working pretty good because I have a double stop," she said.
Diane Grumelot runs the school's transportation department. She said one person did run through one of the extended arms, but they seem to be making things safer.
"(They are) definitely visible, and I think that's what motorists always say, 'Oh, I did not realize the bus was stopping,'" Grumelot said. "That should help block it and let you see that a bus is coming to a stop."
The extended arms are also on school buses in Duplin, Guilford, New Hanover, Pitt and Transylvania counties.
Grumelot said Cumberland County will be adding them to another 15 buses before school get out this year.
"They seem to not see the big red lights flashing and the small stop arm that's out," Grumelot said. "So, especially after the accident yesterday, we definitely want to make people stop."
Each stop arm costs $1,500.