SHP, DPI and DOT Combine Efforts In Conducting Operation Stop Arm

SHP, DPI and DOT Combine Efforts In Conducting Operation Stop Arm

By / State News / Tuesday, 21 October 2014 04:00

RALEIGH, N.C. : October 21st, 2014 - The departments of Transportation and Public Instruction, along with the State Highway Patrol held a joint press conference at the State Fair Oct. 20 to increase awareness of school bus stop arm safety.
This week, during Operation Stop Arm, troopers in every county of the state will concentrate their efforts on stop arm violations and other traffic violations occurring near North Carolina schools. Troopers will issue tickets, not warnings for violations.
Daily, more than 14,000 school buses travel North Carolina highways transporting children to and from school. Most motorists stop when they meet school buses, as required by North Carolina law. However, on an average school day in North Carolina nearly 3,000 motorists disregard school bus stop arms.
“Sadly, in the last few weeks we have had one child killed and three others struck as they were attempting to get onto their buses,” SHP Commander Bill Grey said. “This must stop. Whenever you see a stopped school bus, flashing lights and an extended stop arm, you should stop your car. It’s that simple.”
Colonel Gray said that motorists may not know where students are, so the safest thing to do -- and what the law requires -- is to simply stop.
“Remember; don’t try to beat the bus. It’s not worth the life a child. If you do not, you could commit the greatest tragedy of all -- you could kill an innocent child,” Grey said. “Please be careful on our highways. School is in session and buses are on the roads. I ask you to join all law enforcement officers in helping us protect our children.”
Dr. Ben Matthews from the Department of Public instruction, and DOT secretary, Tony Tata, also gave remarks.
Operation Stop Arm runs from 6 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 20th through Friday, Oct. 24th.
Passing a stopped school bus could be a very costly mistake. If convicted for passing a stopped school bus in North Carolina; the General Statute carries an assessment of 5 points on your license, a fine of up to $200, and a significant increase in your insurance.
In December, 2013, a bill passed the North Carolina General Assembly that would increase the penalities for passing a stopped school bus with the stop arm deployed. Senate Bill 16 amended the law by allowing the Division of Motor Vehicles to revoke the driver's licenses of illegal bus passers. First convictions could result in the revocation of the individual's driver's license for 30 days for the first offense. Passing a stopped school bus is a Class I misdemeanor, that is punishable by up to 120 days in jail and significant discretionary fines by the court.
If a motorist passes a stopped school bus and strikes a child causing bodily injury, the driver would be charged with a Class I felony, punishable by 15 months in prison and given fines discretionary by the court.
It is not uncommon for motorist to drive recklessly when approaching a school bus. When you see the amber lights on a school bus, that means the motorist should start slowing down. The bus driver is activating the amber lights to give the motorist notice that they are getting ready to activate the red lights and stop. Driving recklessly to get around a school bus that is driving safely, not only endangers the motorist, but also the children on the school bus.
Source: North Carolina Department of Transportation and Charlotte Mecklenburg School System.

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