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Drivers beware as first day of school kicks off

By Anna Bulszewicz
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:16:08 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 26 2013 05:28:12 AM CDT
school bus
RALEIGH -

More than 1.5 million students across the state will be heading back to school this Monday, which means an influx of cars, buses and pedestrians on North Carolina’s roads. The North Carolina Department of Education urges students and motorists to do their part to keep everyone safe with this increase in activity, according to an official release. 

Each year in North Carolina, more than 2,000 pedestrians are injured and 160 are killed in collisions with vehicles. Last year, this included four students who were killed when crossing the road to or from a bus.

“These accidents are 100 percent preventable,” said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. “Both motorists and students can play a role in making sure everyone gets back to school safely, by doing things like using caution when approaching stopped school buses and watching out for pedestrians.”

NCDOT encourages parents to remind students to follow these basic rules of safety before heading back to school:

 ·         Cross in the crosswalk.

·         Look for cars in all directions—including those turning left or right—before crossing the street; never assume a driver will stop.

·         Be careful crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Make sure each lane of traffic is clear before you cross.

·         Pay attention to where you’re walking and take the focus off your cell phone or other electronic device. A moment of distraction could have disastrous consequences.

·         Be predictable to drivers and follow the rules of the road—obey signs and signals.

·         Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic.

·         Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the road as you can.

NCDOT encourages motorists to review these basic tips and to watch out for pedestrians and school buses:

 ·         Always stop for a stopped school bus.  If the lights are flashing and the stop sign is out, you must stop, including in the following situations:

o   If you are traveling a two-lane road, all traffic from both directions must stop;

o   If you are traveling a two-lane road with a center turn lane, all traffic from both directions must stop;

o   If you are traveling a four-lane road without a median separation, all traffic from both directions must stop;

o   If you are traveling a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation, only traffic following the bus must stop; and

o   If you are traveling a road with four or more lanes with a center turn lane, only traffic following the bus must stop.

·         Passing a stopped school bus can cost motorists five points on their driver’s license and eight points for commercial vehicles.

·         Be prepared to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

·         Never pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.

·         Before making a turn, be sure the path is clear of any pedestrians.

·         Slow down in areas where you are likely to find pedestrians, such as near bus stops, schools and playgrounds. There is a $250 penalty for speeding in a school zone in North Carolina.

·         Avoid distractions such as food, passengers and using mobile devices.