ELIZABETHTOWN — As students are sharpening their pencils and packing their brand-new book bags for the start of a new school year, it may be time for motorists to take a quick refresher course on sharing the roads with school buses.
“Our lives are filled with distractions, but we simply must put them aside and focus on the road ahead when we get behind the wheel,” Bladen County Schools Bus Transportation Director Kent Allen said. “Even a momentary distraction – especially around school buses and in school zones – can lead to tragedy.”
Bladen County Schools reminds motorists when they are approaching a bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended, they are required to stop in all directions.
Motorists are reminded that North Carolina legislation requires that a person convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor for passing a stopped school bus pay a minimum fine of $500, a person convicted of a Class I felony pursuant to G.S. 20-217(g) pay a minimum fine of $1,250, and a person convicted of a Class H felony under this statute pay a minimum fine of $2,500. The act “encourages local boards of education to use the proceeds of any fines collected for violations of G.S. 20-217 to purchase automated camera and video recording systems to install on school buses to help detect and prosecutor violators.”
Motorists could also face having their driver’s license revoked for up to three years.
There were more than 1,300 misdemeanor charges for passing a stopped school bus in 2012. There were three felony charges statewide, two for striking a person and one for causing death. One doesn’t have to look far for a compelling reason to comply with G.S. 20-217. North Carolina’s school children are worth the wait.
— Valerie Newton is the public relations and information officer for Bladen County SChools.