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Originally published: 2013-10-21 10:51:31
Last modified: 2013-10-21 10:52:16

Operation Stop Arm targets violators

by Staff Reports

The N.C. Highway Patrol will be aggressively enforcing stop-arm violations and other traffic violations in and around school zones this week as part of Operation Stop Arm.


The increased enforcement will start at 6 a.m. Monday and will continue through Friday. 


The goal is to decrease violations involving the passing of stopped school buses and reduce school bus collisions.


Across the state, troopers will be working in school zones while others will follow buses in marked and unmarked cars.


The operation is especially timely this year. A Rowan County teen was killed Thursday morning when a car failed to stop for a school bus that had its red lights flashing and warning arms extended. The 17-year-old was crossing the road to board the bus.


"We must protect our children from traffic dangers," said Col. Bill Grey, commander of the N.C. State Highway Patrol. "The Highway Patrol will conduct this school bus campaign simultaneously in all North Carolina counties cracking down on stop-arm violations. Motorists who try to pass a stopped school bus will be charged with the violation."


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 fines up to $200. Passing a stopped school bus is a Class I Felony if the driver strikes an individual and a Class H Felony should the violation result in a death.


During a one-day count in 2012, North Carolina school bus drivers witnessed 3,196 vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses at 2,299 bus stops. These violations occurred while the buses were stopped, stop arm extended with flashing red lights, and children were in the process of embarking or disembarking buses.


To assist law enforcement agencies across, cameras have been installed on the outside of some school buses. Under the Nicholas Adkins Safety Act, video evidence can be used to prosecute stop arm violations. The act increases the penalty for those who strike and kill a child when they pass a stopped school bus.


"We must ensure our children's safety as they travel to and from school," said Frank Perry, secretary of the Department of Public Safety. "A child's life should never be put in danger just to save a minute or two during a daily commute. That's why we're going to make sure people know the law as well as the consequences of breaking it."