Under the Dome

NC might make school bus drivers signal when students can cross

Public school bus drivers in Wake County and across North Carolina could be required to use hand signals to indicate to students when it’s safe to cross the bus.

Under a proposed state policy change, bus drivers would be required to give hand signals telling students to wait, when it’s “ok” and when they can proceed to cross. The policy could be approved by the State Board of Education in July and be implemented statewide in January.

State education officials cite various statistics for why the “crossing signal” is needed:

▪ Since 1999, 13 North Carolina students have been killed by passing motorists as they got on or off the school bus.

▪ This school year, five students were seriously injured as they were struck by cars passing a stopped school bus.

▪ Daily, 3,000 to 3,500 automobiles illegally pass stopped school buses.

While buses have gotten features such as better lighting and stop signs, extended stop arms and stop-arm camera systems, the state Department of Public Instruction says “these initiatives are clearly not enough as students continue to be injured and the next fatality could happen at any time.”

DPI says the new hand signals will “empower” bus drivers with helping to make sure it is safe for students to step into the roadway. DPI also says the use of the crossing signal “requires students to stop and think (by looking at the school bus driver) before they step into an active roadway.”

Click here to view a PowerPoint on the policy change that was discussed at this week’s state Board meeting.