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MONTHLY FEATURE

LOCAL 'STOP FOR A LIFE!' CAMPAIGN FOCUSES ON SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

DOBSON — The tragic deaths of four children killed at school bus stops across North Carolina has spurred Surry County Schools Transportation Director Rodney Hardy's safety campaign themed 'Stop for a LIFE!"

"Safety is our utmost concern when transporting students which is the only reason for the campaign," said Hardy. "This new logo captures the essence of what should happen at a bus stop. This is an awareness campaign as school begins to send a message to the public that acting safely at bus stops protects our children."

He explained the unique logo which will be appearing on shirts in Surry County was designed by his wife, Laura, who operates the Laura Hardy Creative Graphics firm. Hardy said in addition to shirts, brochures also have been printed and volunteers are working on planning an event at Mount Airy Walmart 1039 to promote bus safety and pass out safety materials.

"We have already received word from other school districts who are interested in using this campaign," Hardy said. "I look at a lot of film as part of my job and it's shocking. I have viewed footage of six vehicles locally going through a passenger stop without so much as hitting the brakes."

Information supplied by Hardy indicated the county has 120 buses. About 6,000 students travel to and from school every day with around 7,000 miles driven per day with local drivers amassing a total of more than 4,000 stops per day.

House Bill 428 Hasani N. Wesley is so named after a Forsyth County student who was struck by a motorist who illegally passed a stopped bus that was making a passenger stop. It is referred to as the Students' School Bus Safety Act.

The first offense under this law is a misdemeanor with a $500 fine and five points against a driving record. An injury carries a $1,250 fine, Class I Felony and two-year revocation of driving license. A fatality in connection with this offense carries a $2,500 fine and is a Class H Felony and a three-year driving license revocation. Two felonies is cause to permanently revoke a driving license and the same penalty can be given for three misdemeanor convictions of this offense.

Hardy said automated camera and video recording systems are installed on school buses and may be used to detect and prosecute violations of this section. Any photograph or video recorded by a camera or video recording system if it is consistent with the state rules of evidence is admissible as evidence. Drivers may report offenders to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

He indicated students are reminded to walk and not run to the bus stop and to wait in groups when possible. Students should arrive from five to 10 minutes early to the stop before the school bus arrives and should remain at least 12 feet from the edge of the road while waiting.

Students should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop with the stop arm and cross walk arm extended and the door opens. Hardy reminded students to always stop, look and listen before crossing the road to get on or off of the bus and remember an area 10 feet around the bus when it loads or unloads is a danger zone. Students also are reminded to tell the bus driver if they drop something rather than immediately bending down to retrieve the item.

Persons may obtain more information about expected motorist behavior in the state bus stop law at www.ncbussafety.org, www.ncdot.org/DMV or by calling 919.861.3109.

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