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As penalties toughen, Brunswick Co. cracks down on passing stopped school buses

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- The ticket for passing a stopped school bus in North Carolina is now more than double the old penalty.

State officials say since 1998, 13 students have died in North Carolina after someone ignored the stop lights at a bus stop. A new law and campaign in one local county hope to bring those drivers to a stop.

"I pray a lot when they come across the road," Brunswick County bus driver Denise Patton said. "Cell phones drive me crazy."

She's a second line of defense to keep Brunswick County students safe.

"I said, 'Erica, we're not doing this. I'm going to pick you up last, drop you off last, so you don't have to cross the road again," Patton said about how she decided to protect one student.

Patton is one of many hoping stiffer penalties for passing a stopped school bus will, stop, the problem. The new law, which went into effect Sunday, increases the fine to a mandatory $500 on top of the five-point penalty on your driver license.

On top of the new law, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office is launching a new bus safety campaign.

"The first part of this is an educational outreach to the community, let them know we have these issues," 1st Sgt. Jeremiah King said.

And to clear up confusion, oncoming traffic must stop unless on a road with four or more lanes there is a center turn lane or raised median. If in doubt, stop, so that these students can go to school safely.

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distracted driving is

distracted driving is definitely a danger to the kids, but I feel like a big problem that has come up over the years is these flashing caution lights on the bus's, how many times have the lights came on and we have all came to a screeching halt only to have the bus drive past us and go on down the road a couple hundred yards, so it get's to the point there is confusion, that should be eliminated, when I drove a bus you looked at the oncoming traffic and thru out the stop sign and watched in the mirror till you knew traffic had it right and then opened the door.

Another area that must have changed since drivers ed was the only time you can pass a stopped school bus was when the road had a divided median, now they aresaying it is ok to pass with a turning lane dividing the road?? good

Another area that is frustrating drivers is now a days the bus will pull up to a stop and there can be 5 minutes pass before the parent sows up with the kid and then they want to carry on a conversation with the driver, now mind you, I would never intentionally pass a stopped school bus, but there are a lot of contributing factors going on that needs to be addressed today.

You are so correct in saying

You are so correct in saying that the amber caution lights confuse motorists. Some drivers turn theirs on a half mile before they get to the stop. There should be marked areas on the pavement where the bus stops. This would solve a lot of the confusion problem and make it safer for all. As for waiting for parents to get their brood on and off the bus, it is very irritating. I have sat behind a bus on Mt. Misery road in Leland for several minutes while I guess, the driver chats with the kids getting off. It should be get on and sit down and get up and get off.....no socializing. Holding up traffic unnecessairily will only provoke people to be impatient.

Not exactly

If there is only one line in each direction with a center turn lane, both directions must stop. If there are multiple lanes in each direction with a center turn lane, only the traffic going in the same direction as the bus must stop.

As an example, there is no where on Carolina Beach Road except for 1 block at Greenfield Lake that traffic coming in the opposite direction of a stopped bus must stop.

http://www.ncdot.gov/download/dmv/handbooks_ncdl_english.pdf

Look at page 42

I agree with you, I think

I agree with you, I think that was confusing or conflicting info the sheriff's dept put out on the turning lane, hopefully this helps clear it up

About time

It should be more than that in the last 2 weeks I have seen it happen at least 3 times.