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Number One Back-to-School Safety Tip: Slow Down

With the end of summer, drivers throughout the United States need to be reminded to relax and take their foot off the gas pedal a bit. That’s because “Back to School” means back to the road for about 480,000 school buses carrying more than 50 million children every day. In addition to increased traffic from the buses, which constitute the largest mass transportation fleet in the country, passenger cars driven by parents and high school students add to the volume on the roads.

As The Daily Reflector reports, the impact of this additional traffic can be seen in Pitt County, North Carolina, as an example of the issues drivers face across the country. The daily volume of school bus traffic in the county involves 218 yellow school buses traveling 15,394 miles while transporting 12,506 students. This activity significantly changes traffic patterns, adding to congestion at the usual bottlenecks and road construction sites.

Drivers need to be aware of school locations in their area and adjust their routes as well as their expectations about travel times. It’s also important to know where school buses stop. Children’s behavior getting on and off buses is often unpredictable, especially at the start of the year and during inclement weather. Drivers must remain alert, and that starts with slowing down. There is significantly less chance of an accident when drivers moderate their speed. Unfortunately, drivers who don’t adjust their commute expectations are more likely to be anxious and aggressive.

Drivers should also review the rules for sharing the road with school buses. The law requires drivers to stop when a school bus displays its mechanical stop signal, flashes red lights, or is engaged in picking up or dropping off passengers. Vehicles traveling in both directions must stop for a bus that has its stop arm extended unless the road has four lanes with a center turn lane or median. Then only traffic on the bus’s side of the road must halt.

Unfortunately, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, drivers are not obeying the law. Back in 2012, in a single day, bus drivers reported seeing more than 3,000 vehicles illegally pass their buses. Because that number does not seem to have decreased, The Daily Reflector reports that North Carolina law now allows “counties that have automated school bus safety cameras on their buses to impose a civil penalty for violators. The civil penalty for the first offense is $400; for a second offense, $750; and for any subsequent offense, $1,000. If the penalty isn’t paid, the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will refuse to register the motor vehicle.”

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban hopes that you and your family remain safe on the road. But if you are hurt in an auto accident in Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina, you can trust us to fight for your rights. Call (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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