While different states have different laws regarding school bus safety, nearly every state has laws in place to penalize drivers who fail to exercise caution when driving behind or passing school buses.
In North Carolina, for example, drivers are required to stop when a school bus turns on its flashing red lights or displays its mechanical stop sign. The driver must not attempt to pass the bus until the sign has been withdrawn, the lights have been turned off and the bus has proceeded along its route.
If you are on a “divided highway with four lanes or more with a median separation or a center turning lane: When school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop” according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).
Violations of these laws are serious. Drivers can expect fines and repeated offenses can lead to a suspension of a driver’s license.
North Carolina’s New School Bus Camera Law
In July, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill into law that allows for school districts to install cameras on buses. The cameras would catch drivers who fail to stop or who attempt to pass while students are boarding or exiting a school bus, and allows for drivers who are apprehended to be given civil penalties or fines of $400 or more. The bill, appropriately titled the “School Bus Cameras and Civil Penalties Bill,” will return all of the money collected by the fines to the county in which the infraction took place, according to a story on WNCN.
Caution Is Key to Preventing School Bus Crashes
While new laws and steep fines will deter some drivers from passing school buses while they are picking up and dropping off students, these initiatives are often not enough. It is the responsibility of every driver on the road to be aware of school bus safety guidelines and to recognize when they are in a school zone, neighborhood, or another area where students are likely to be walking or crossing the street.
By slowing down, observing crosswalks and street signs, and being cautious when following school buses, drivers can reduce the number of pedestrian accidents that occur in school zones in our state and across the nation.
It is also important to note that the highest number of school-aged pedestrian accidents happen near schools and bus stops, so drivers should take extra precautions in these areas. In addition, the 10-foot radius around a school bus is the most dangerous area for students, so make sure to stop your vehicle far enough back to allow them to enter and exit the bus in a safe manner.
Legal Help for Victims of School Bus Accidents
At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, our firm helps protect the rights of traffic accident victims, including children hurt in school bus accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, or you have any general questions about car accident, please contact our team today to set up a free legal consultation. We proudly represent victims throughout Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, including the communities of Spartanburg, Greenville, Waynesville, Franklin and Asheville.