This week, many North Carolina children said goodbye to their summer break and began the 2016-2017 school year. For many students, this involves riding a school bus to and from school. There are thousands of school buses traveling North Carolina highways daily, which means that it is incredibly important for drivers to pay attention to the road and avoid distractions in order to keep everyone safe.
It is extremely important for drivers to be cautious, aware, and patient on the road, especially around crosswalks, schools, and buses at this time of the year.
Drivers are required by law to stop when a school bus is loading or unloading passengers, but it is also important for parents to inform their children to stop and look both ways when getting on or off of the school bus, just in case a driver does not stop for the stopped bus for any reason.
Everyone must stop if it is a:
- Two-lane road (with or without turning lane)
- Four-lane road with no separation
- Center turn lane with less than 4 lanes
Only drivers following the school bus need to stop when there is a:
- Center turn lane with at least four other lanes
- Four lane road or more with a median or some sort of physical boundary
According to North Carolina State Law (N.C.G.S. 20-217), a driver must stop when a school bus is displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights and the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, the driver of any other vehicle that approaches the school bus from any direction on the same street, highway, or public vehicular area shall bring that other vehicle to a full stop and shall remain stopped. The driver of the other vehicle shall not proceed to move, pass, or attempt to pass the school bus until after the mechanical stop signal has been withdrawn, the flashing red stoplights have been turned off, and the bus has started to move.
Consequences for motorists who fail to comply with school bus safety rules:
- $500 penalty and five-point penalty to your driver’s license if you pass a stopped school bus
- Minimum fine of $1,000 and a Class I felony if you pass a stopped school bus and strike someone
- Fine of $2,500 and a Class H felony if someone is killed
If you or somebody you know receives a citation for not complying with school bus safety rules or face any other kind of traffic or criminal charges in our area, Collins Law Firm can help. Please give us a call at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.
By Kimberlin Murray, Legal Assitant at Collins Law Firm