On December 5, a 6-year-old girl exiting a school bus in High Point was struck and critically injured by a motorist who then sped from the scene. The motorist was charged with felony hit-and-run, felony passing a stopped school bus causing serious bodily injury, felony assault with a deadly weapon, driving while impaired, and careless and reckless driving. See the story at: www.wxii12.com/news/14783987/detail.html
“Examples like this on are why we need to keep the pressure on the general public to be wary when a school bus is nearby and to obey the stop sign law” states Derek Graham, NC DPI Transportation Services Section Chief.
During the week of October 15, 2007, the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, through the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, conducted “Operation Stop Arm,” a safety initiative to reduce collisions, injuries and fatalities involving school bus passengers by enforcing all traffic laws around the state’s schools and school buses. According to bus driver surveys, approximately 2,300 vehicles a day drive by school buses displaying the red flashing lights and stop sign, which indicate a passenger stop. North Carolina experienced six student fatalities during the period 1999-2004.
Click here for data: www.ncbussafety.org/StopArm
Every day in North Carolina over 14,000 school buses carrying 750,000 passengers travel the roads carrying passengers to and from school from every known corner of the state. Everyone in the school bus business knows that school buses are the safest form of over-the-road transportation with a safety record that makes every other method of wheeled transportation envious. The bus drivers who drive these buses receive more training to obtain a school bus commercial drivers license than any other type of motor vehicle license. A bus driver knows the cargo they carry is the most precious in the world. The students are taught bus safety through out the year and know serious injury can result if they fail to obey important rules when on or around a school bus.
The weak link in the chain of safety is the other motorist traveling near school buses. Governor Mike Easley proclaimed the week of October 15-19 to be Watch Out for that Child Week in North Carolina. Click here to see the proclamation. (pdf, 268 KB)
Dr. Ben Matthews spoke on behalf of the Department of Public Instruction at the October 15 press conference.
That is why the State Highway Patrol conducts Operation Stop Arm.
“We must protect our children from traffic dangers,” said Colonel W. Fletcher Clay (pictured above), commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, in announcing the initiative. “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.”
During the week of Oct. 15, troopers followed 1,260 buses and rode along on 23 buses. The operation resulted in 17 tickets issued to motorist violating 20-217 (passing a stopped schools bus) as well as 1073 seat belt citations and 112 child safety seat violation..
Passing a stopped school bus is a Class 2 misdemeanor. If convicted, a person will receive five driving points on their driver’s license and is subject to fines up to $200.
If a bus driver or motorist witnesses a motor vehicle passing their stopped school bus, the following information should be obtained to order to prosecute the driver;
- time, date, and location of the infraction
- description of the driver including sex and race
- description of the vehicle and license tag number
- any other persons name and phone number whom can be a witness
The reporting form is available online at: www.ncbussafety.org/StopArm/documents/StoparmReportingForm.pdf
Each of us involved in school bus transportation must be an ambassador of safety to everyone we can touch with the message of being safe and careful when a school bus is nearby in order to avoid future tragedies as was seen in High Point this month.
Information cards of the North Carolina Stop Arm Law (shown here) are available from DPI Transportation Services (919/807-3570).
North Carolina School Bus Stop Law