Know the rules of the road; violating the school bus law can cost you

Published 1:26 am Monday, August 6, 2018

RALEIGH — August is Back to School Safety Month, and North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey who also serves as the Chair for SafeKids NC, reminds students, parents and motorists to use extra caution as students walk, drive or ride the bus to school.

“Passing a stopped school bus can result in the motorist adding four insurance points and seeing an 80-percent increase in auto insurance premiums,” Causey said. “More importantly, making such an ill-advised and unsafe move could result in injury or death to one of our precious children.”

While students on traditional calendars will go back to school in late August, students at year-round schools have already started boarding buses and have headed back to class.

On a typical day, more than 14,000 school buses carrying nearly 800,000 students operate on North Carolina roads.

Causey encouraged all motorists to watch for children walking to school or waiting by the roadside for a school bus. And he advised motorists to understand the rules of the road when a school bus is stopped picking up passengers.

“In most cases, vehicles must stop in either direction if the school bus stop sign is out, red lights are flashing, and the bus is stopped to load or unload passengers,” Causey said. “In some cases, where a median or physical barrier divides the traffic going in different directions, or where a center turn lane separates a four-lane road, motorists traveling the opposite direction from the school bus are not required to stop.”

Causey also offered National Safety Council tips as students and teachers head back to school.

For pedestrians:

  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the street or road, walk facing traffic.
  • Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming.
  • Never dart out in front of a parked car.
  • Parents: Practice walking to school with your child, crossing streets or crosswalks when available.
  • Never walk while texting or talking on the phone.
  • Do not walk while using headphones.

For bike riders:

  • Always wear a helmet that is fitted and secured properly.
  • Children need to know the rules of the road: Ride single file on the right side of the road, come to a complete stop before crossing the street and walk the bike across.
  • Watch for opening car doors and other hazards.
  • Use hand signals when turning.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing.

For bus riders:

  • Teach children the proper way to get on and off the bus.
  • Line up six feet away from the curb as the bus approaches.
  • If seat belts are available, buckle up.
  • Wait for the bus to stop completely before standing.
  • If you must cross the road, walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus.

For motorists, in addition to obeying the stopped school bus law:

  • Don’t block crosswalks.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and take extra precaution in school zones.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
  • Stop far enough back from a school bus to allow children room to safely enter and exit the bus. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.

For more information on how to keep children safe during Back to School Safety Month or throughout the year, visit the website