Be aware of new bus safety laws as children head back to school - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Be aware of new bus safety laws as children head back to school

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District is one of the largest in the state of North Carolina. In CMS alone, nearly a thousand buses are hitting the roads this year.

With those buses carrying precious cargo, bus safety is critical.

"We want to make sure that we are keeping the focus and the awareness up so that we can minimize the opportunity for some sort of tragedy here in Mecklenburg County," said CMS Safety & Training Specialist Devery Peterson.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina legislature imposed stricter penalties for drivers convicted of passing a stopped school bus.

"When that bus comes to a complete stop no one is allowed to pass the bus from behind or come in the opposite direction," said Captain Barry Graham with Huntersville Police.

The new bill says a motorist who passes a school bus that is stopped for students getting on or off would be guilty of a Class1 misdemeanor and must pay a minimum fine of $500.

Depending on the infraction, the penalty could more harsher and more costly.

Officers want to make sure all drivers are ready when those buses hit the roads next week.

"We would follow the school bus in unmarked cars, sometimes marked cars," said Captain Graham. 

"Anyone seen passing a school bus we will stop and write citations for that."

CMS safety crews will also do their part to enforce this rule.

"I think it helps to increase the awareness that there are consequences to passing a stopped school bus, not necessarily a monetary consequence but also this is going to have criminal implications as well," added Peterson.

The first couple of weeks there will be very heavy traffic and police say that's when they generally start to see dangerous behavior like speeding and passing school buses.

So remember to plan ahead, leave your house early, and obey the law.

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