September is here, school is in session, and every morning and afternoon the neighborhoods are lined with yellow busses. When at a complete stop, school busses extend a stop sign on the left hand side of the vehicle called a stop-arm, alerting traffic in both directions to come to a halt.
However, vehicles do not always stop. In fact, on occasion, drivers of passenger vehicles illegally pass school buses that clearly have extended their stop-arm, endangering the lives of students. The attorneys at Daggett Shuler are passionate about protecting our community’s children and have seen too often how the negligent acts of drivers can cause irreversible damage.
This year, hundreds of school buses across the state of North Carolina will be equipped with stop-arm cameras in order to catch perpetrators in the act. Every district in the state has at least two buses with this new technology used to capture video evidence, including license plate information and an image of the driver that can be used in court to prosecute these law breakers.
Stop-arm laws are not new, however they have been difficult to prosecute in the past due to lack of evidence. Witnesses would need to identify the vehicle driver and vehicle tag number and very few cases have made it to court. In 2012, only 15 stop-arm related cases went to trial.
Not only has North Carolina introduced stop-arm cameras, but 2014 state laws now ensure harsher penalties for violators. These laws were prompted by the 2012 death of an East Forsyth Middle School student who was hit and killed getting on his school bus.
Under the Hasani N. Wesley Students School Bus Safety Act, illegally passing a school bus can lead to a misdemeanor charge and a minimum fine of $500.
If a driver is convicted twice within three years of illegally passing a school bus they could have their license revoked for a year.
Drivers convicted three times can lose their license permanently.
Drivers who pass a stopped school bus and hit a student can be charged with a Class I felony, fined, and lose their license for two years.
Drivers who pass a stopped school bus and kill a student can be charges with a Class H felony, fined, and lose their license for three years.
Drivers convicted twice for felonies related to stop-arm laws could lose their license permanently.
During the most recent one-day count this past March, 139 drivers illegally passed stopped buses in Forsyth County, the highest total since the state started tracking numbers in 1998.
The new stop-arm cameras and stricter laws are in place to deter drivers from breaking the law and stop putting student’s lives at risk.
Daggett Shuler Injury and Disability Lawyers represent people throughout the state of North Carolina in bus accidents, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, tractor trailer accidents, and other serious injury cases. Our team is dedicated to representing the rights of individuals injured by the negligent conduct of others.
At Daggett Shuler, you can always speak with an attorney for FREE, and if we take your case, it is on a no-win, no-fee basis. So call us and speak with an experienced professional for free. Call 1-800-815-5500 and we will provide the answers you seek.
You can depend on us.
To view an infographic on North Carolina school bus stop laws, click the link below.