Keeping students safe as they board the bus

More than 15 million Americans passed stopped school buses with their signs extended, one survey showed.
Keeping students safe.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT
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UNION CO., N.C. (WBTV) - Back to school means the big yellow buses are back on the roads, too. Whether you have kids in school or not, keeping those young scholars safe is a shared responsibility.

Yet both around the country and here at home, we see cars passing a stopped school bus.

Scott Denton, transportation director for Union County Public Schools, says drivers are trained to use hand signals and look out for traffic before telling children to board/deboard the bus.

“But we need the motoring public to do their part too to make everything safe,” said Denton.

It’s against the law nationwide to pass a school bus that has its stop sign extended and lights flashing.

But one survey showed more than 15 million Americans did just that in a single school year.

UCPS officials say they work hard to create routes that avoid having children cross the road, but in the case that a student has to cross the street, their safety is now in the hands of drivers who share the road.

Cameras on buses help enforce good behavior but also capture countless instances of people passing the extended arms and blinking stop signs, sometimes just feet away from a walking child.

It creates a risk that has injured and even killed children across the country.

“Nobody wants to be in a situation where you’ve injured a child because of negligence,” said Denton. “That’s the worst thing you can imagine, to have been on your phone, texting, not paying attention and you injure, or even worse, fatally injure a child. That’s just the worst thing to have to go through.”

[READ ALSO: Car towed after students nearly hit boarding stopped school bus in Iredell County]

It’s even worse for the families who send their kids to school and never see them again.

“Just slow down when you see these big yellow buses on the road. They are carrying our most precious cargo possible,” said Denton.

School transportation officials also urge parents to escort their kids to and from the bus stop – providing supervision if possible, and preventing kids from playing in the roadway while they wait.

You can only pass a school bus when no lights are flashing and the stop sign isn’t extended. The second you see the amber lights flash, know a stop is about to be made.

Here are the rules on when to stop, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety:

  • Two-lane roadway: All traffic from both directions must stop
  • Two-lane with a center turning lane: All traffic from both directions must stop
  • Four-lane roadway: All traffic from both directions must stop
  • Four-lane roadway with a median: Only traffic following the bus must stop
  • Four or more lanes with a center turning lane: Only traffic following the bus must stop