The driver habit school bus safety experts can't control

Drivers ignoring stopped school bus

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More than 13,000 yellow school buses travel the roads every day in North Carolina.  They're competing for space on area roadways with drivers trying to get through their daily routines.

The State says it is doing all it can to protect your children, however, there's one x-factor that no piece of technology or safety plan can control.  That is the behavior of other drivers.

It is a real frustration for bus drivers.

"I really care for these kids just like I would care for my own because my kids rode the bus.  I want to make sure these kids get to school and back," bus driver Gwen Lisenby told us.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools operate 1,022 buses every day carrying as many as 125,000 students.  On just one day of monitoring last year, drivers passed school buses within CMS 723 times.  No district is immune to the problem.  Every day 3,000 cars do not stop for stopped school buses.

"We just don't feel like we can shut the door on anything that might help improve safety," North Carolina Transportation chief Derek Graham tells WBTV.

Starting January 1, 2016 all bus drivers state-wide will be required to use hand signals to help children cross the road at bus stops.  Longer stop arms are being tested in 7 school districts in the state, including Rowan-Salisbury schools.

"We're willing to look at any options available.  There's not one thing that will prevent this from happening so it's a series of things we're willing to try," said Tim Beck, the Transportation Director with Rowan-Salisbury schools.

We have also reported to you the efforts to put cameras on some buses to catch violators.

"The goal is not for a bunch of prosecutions or fines but for people to realize it is important enough and change their behavior," Graham said.

That is the only thing technology can't regulate.  Now the focus is on educating drivers on the dangers of their bad habits and distractions.

"Just slow down and be mindful that the children are out there and could run out," Lisenby added.

Remember if you see a problem at a bus stop in your neighborhood, let us know by posting to social media using #Brake4Buses and we will investigate.

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