There’s never a good time to break the rules around school buses, but if there was ever a bad time it is arguably this week in North Carolina.
The N.C. State Highway Patrol is cranking up its focus on driver behavior around school buses for its annual “Operation Stop Arm” campaign, which runs through Friday, Oct. 20. Troopers statewide will be working school zones and following school buses on their routes, officials said.
“Children traveling to and from school safely is an effort we must take the lead on,” Col. Glenn McNeill, commander of the State Highway Patrol, said in a news release. “Our agency is up to this incredible task as we strive to ensure safety takes precedence in the minds of everyone traveling on the state’s roadways.”
Passing a stopped school bus is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. People who are convicted are issued five points on their driver’s license, and are subject to fines up to $500.
Passing a stopped school bus and causing physical injury is a Class I felony – and a Class H felony in cases that result in a death.
Thirteen North Carolina students getting on or off school buses have been killed by passing motorists since 1999. Last school year, cars passing stopped school buses across the state seriously injured five students.
A statewide count on March 22 showed 3,174 vehicles illegally passed stopped school buses on that single day.