Law enforcement stress safety as school buses hit the roads
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BOLIVIA, N.C. -- With buses carrying precious cargo back on the roadways, law enforcement officials stress driving safety.
More than one million students across the state traveled to and from school Monday. School leaders said drivers need to stay alert.
"There are so many distractions in a car, people are listening to the radio, listening to telephones, texting, talking and all of these things just does not allow them to really consider the danger outside the vehicle," said Bobby Taylor, transportation director for Brunswick County Schools.
Officials stressed all drivers should learn the "flashing signal light system."
The flashing yellow lights on the front and back of the bus mean the bus is about to come to a stop to either drop off or pick up students and motorists should slow down.
When it turns red and the stop arm comes out that means the bus has come to a complete stop and, most of the time, that means drivers need to stop too.
"If you are on a four lane highway and there is a median such as concrete barrier or a grassy area the traffic that is meeting the bus does not have to stop just the traffic directly behind the bus," said Sgt. Jeff Gordon, with the Highway Patrol. "If you're on a two lane highway and there is a turning lane, then both lanes of traffic have to stop."
A statewide violation count done back in March by the Department of Public Instruction logged more than 2,300 stopped bus passing incidents in one day. State and local authorities said drivers beware, they're out in full force.
"We're directing the traffic around the schools, we're beefing up the patrols in the school zones and we're also monitoring the bus traffic throughout the county," said Sergeant Del Routh with the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office.
Bottom line is stay alert and when it doubt, "Simply stop, it takes maybe ten seconds of your time and more importantly, it can prevent the injury or death of a child," said Gordon.
National statistics show an average of 24 school-aged children die in transportation-related crashes each year.
Click here for an entire list of safety precautions for drivers, students, and parents.