State Officials Urge Back-to-School Safety for Motorists and Students

State Officials Urge Back-to-School Safety for Motorists and Students
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August 19, 2015

More than 1.5 million students across the state will head back to school next week, which means North Carolina's roads will be jam-packed with cars, buses and pedestrians.

As we prepare for the new school year, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the NC State Highway Patrol urge motorists to stay alert and exercise caution on the road, especially around schools, crosswalks, school buses and bus stops.

Each year in North Carolina, more than 2,000 pedestrians are injured and 160 are killed in collisions with vehicles. In the last two school years, five students have been killed either crossing the road to or from a bus or while standing at a bus stop.

"Safety, especially the safety of our students at this time of year, is our number one priority, and we want all drivers to stay alert and slow down as more children will soon be standing at bus stops, crossing the road to get on buses and walking or riding their bikes to schools," said Governor McCrory. "We also want to remind all drivers, particularly our teen drivers, to put their phones away, keep their eyes on the road and avoid all distractions and slow down."

NCDOT offers students a few basic rules of safety as they head back to school:

  • Cross in the crosswalk.
  • Look for cars in all directions—including those turning left or right—before crossing the street; never assume a driver will stop.
  • Be careful when crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Make sure each lane of traffic is clear before you cross.
  • Pay attention to where you're walking and take the focus off your cell phone or other electronic device. A moment of distraction could have disastrous consequences.
  • Be predictable to drivers and follow the rules of the road—obey signs and signals.
  • Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the road as you can.

NCDOT reminds motorists of these basic driving tips as the new school year approaches.

Always stop for a stopped school bus. If the bus' lights are flashing and the stop sign is out, you must stop, including in the following situations:

  • If you are traveling a two-lane road, all traffic in both directions must stop.
  • If you are traveling a two-lane road with a center turn lane, all traffic from both directions must stop.
  • If you are traveling a four-lane road without a median separation, all traffic from both directions must stop.
  • If you are traveling a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation, only traffic following the bus must stop.
  • If you are traveling a road with four or more lanes with a center turn lane, only traffic following the bus must stop.
  • Be prepared to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Never pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.
  • Before making a turn, be sure the path is clear of any pedestrians.
  • Slow down in areas where you are likely to find pedestrians.
  • Avoid distractions such as food, passengers and using mobile devices.

North Carolina has stiff penalties for motorists who fail to comply with school bus safety rules.

  • There is a $500 penalty for motorists who are caught passing a stopped school bus, with the possibility of license revocation.
  • There is a $250 penalty for speeding in a school zone in North Carolina.
  • Passing a stopped school bus can cost motorists five points on their driver's license and eight points for commercial vehicles.

To learn more, visit the Watch for Me NC campaign website to learn more about what you can do to keep roads safe for everyone. Visit the NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for more information about school bus laws.