The beginning of the school year marks the dramatic increase of buses in traffic and hours on the road. As frustrating as it can be for many North Carolina drivers, they should expect it around this time of year and begin adjusting their schedules accordingly.
Unfortunately, a new school year also means a potential increase in child pedestrian deaths from accidents around the school bus. Many of these are a result of other motorists on the road failing to obey bus stop laws due to inexperience or negligence.
Knowing the risks that come with the first month of the school year, the state’s police force and school buses have begun safety enforcement to decrease the amount of child fatalities. It is important to be aware of their actions and the state’s school bus laws should your child become another victim of negligent driving.
North Carolina’s school bus stop laws
Many new drivers in the state do not know who should stop when the school bus comes to a halt. While every road requires the motorists behind the school bus to stop when the bus does, it varies for the drivers in the other lane going in the opposite direction.
The law states that the drivers going the other way must stop for any two-lane roadway or a four-lane roadway without a median separation. The only instances where the motorists in the other lane do not have to stop is when they are on a divided highway of four lanes that has a median separation, or a four-lane road with a center turning lane. It is all dependent on if the four-lane road has only a yellow line separating the sides or not.
School bus passing penalties
Anyone caught passing a school bus and endangering others will receive high charges for their actions. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor that the culprit has to pay at least $500 for not including court costs or additional expenses. The driver gets an additional one-year revocation of their license if they do it again within three years of the incident.
The driver receives felony charges if they strike any pedestrian while passing the bus. It is a Class I felony with a minimum $1,250 fee and a two-year license revocation if they hit a person, and it becomes a Class H felony with a minimum $2,500 fine with a three-year revocation if the person dies from the crash. The revocation will be permanent if the driver commits a second felony or third misdemeanor within a specified period.
How school buses are preparing
While a school bus driver cannot defend the child from an incoming negligent driver, they can help the victim and their parents find justice. In 2009, North Carolina passed the Nicholas Adkins School Bus Safety Act, allowing schools to use cameras or video recording devices on their stop arms to film potential court evidence of motorists breaking the law. This evidence can certify the motorist’s guilt in court or help the police catch the criminal if they commit a hit-and-run.
Thanks to more school buses in the state installing cameras into their systems, you have a higher chance of receiving medical compensation if your child is hit by a negligent motorist. You should seek legal assistance to ensure that the evidence is used properly and to get enough to help your child recover from these an accident that was entirely preventable.