New School Bus Law Takes Effect Soon

4:41 PM, Oct 23, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. - In the morning or the afternoon, you would think that you just can't miss a big, bright yellow school bus. But, somehow, it keeps happening.

Wednesday morning, a Charlotte driver hit a third grader waiting at the bus stop. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

"People are not thinking about the consequences of what might happen when they pass that school bus," Trooper Mitchell Gordy said. "It's frustrating to see that people do pass these stopped school buses. They're negligent. They don't stop and just take a few seconds to make sure these children get on and off the school bus safely."

This week, the Highway Patrol is taking a closer look at people who illegally pass stopped school buses. The state has posted a school bus surveillance video that includes seven cars illegally speeding by an extended school bus stop arm.

Diane Benbow, a parent, said, "You just have to think...What is more important: getting things done while you're driving or making sure everyone is safe?...The school buses are big and yellow and take up the whole road. The lights are flashing. Can people not tell they're not supposed to pass it? It's quite obvious."

In December, a new law takes effect that increases the minimum fine for drivers who pass a stopped school bus to five-hundred dollars. In some cases, drivers can also lose their license.
Drivers who kill a student getting on or off the bus also now face a minimum twenty-five hundred dollar fine. The new law is named after Forsyth County student Hasani Wesley. A driver illegally passing a school bus killed him last year.

"Operation Stop Arm" continues throughout the rest of the week with marked and unmarked patrol vehicles. We won't have any numbers on how many drivers get caught until after it's all over. Last year, the Highway Patrol caught more than 3,000 people illegally passing a stopped school bus in just one day.

"I do think drivers are more distracted than they were ten years ago by cell phones or whatever they may be distracted by," Guilford County Schools Transportation Director Jeff Harris said.

To learn more about the law surrounding school buses, check out our previous story

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