CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – The trend of drivers illegally passing stopped school buses continues to be a problem in North Carolina, according to new numbers from the state.
Officials with the Department of Public Instruction held a news conference Wednesday in Cary, revealing 3,194 drivers illegally passed stopped school buses in one day this year in North Carolina.
It’s about the same number of drivers when they did a similar count in 2015.
In Vincent Manley’s 15 years driving a school bus, he says he’s seen too many drivers illegally pass his stopped school bus.
“I see a lot of traffic violators,” said Manley, “There’s no courtesy from some of these drivers.”
He believes the main reason is distracted driving and he often has to do a lot to get the attention of the driver.
“I got to blow the horn, flash my lights,” said Manley. “Absolutely anything possible to avoid tragedy.”
Officials are reiterating the importance of raising awareness about the issue, saying not much has changed when it comes to the number of drivers illegally passing stopped school buses.
“I’m absolutely amazed from time to time that this continues to happen,” said Dr. Benjamin Matthews with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. “We all need to be paying attention to the big yellow bus and watch children as they get on and off the bus to keep them safe.”
They hope two new measures will reverse this trend. The state has implemented new hand signals for drivers and more cameras have been installed on buses to catch those who illegally pass school buses.
“It’s going to get you,” said Matthews. “It’ll get a picture of your face, it’ll get your license number, and it will absolutely identify you to the point where you can get arrested.”
Passing a stopped school bus is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If convicted, a person will receive five driving points on their driver’s license and is subject to a minimum fine of $500. Passing a stopped school bus is a Class I Felony if the driver strikes an individual and carries a minimum fine of $1,250. Should the violation result in a death, the violation would be a Class H Felony and a minimum fine of $2,500.
CBS North Carolina has led the way when it comes to bus stop safety in the area with our #Brake4Buses campaign.