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School district implements new policy to protect students getting on, off buses

Every day, New Hanover County Schools drivers see cars pass stopped school buses.
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 5:54 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Chances are you’ve seen someone pass a stopped school bus, and it’s a bigger problem than you may think.

“The most dangerous thing we do is pick up and drop off kids,” said Mark Clawson, New Hanover County Schools’ director of transportation. “That’s where injuries occur, that’s where deaths occur, and it’s primarily due to other motorists not paying attention.”

Every day, New Hanover County Schools bus drivers see other vehicles pass stopped school buses. It happens both in front of homes and in front of the school as kids head to and from their classrooms.

That’s why the school district is implementing a new policy for bus drivers. Now, they have to have their stop sign out when in front of the school to better alert drivers that they should not pass the bus.

“At this lot alone, there’s going to be over 100 flashing red lights,” said Clawson as he stood in front of Charles P. Murray Middle School. “It’s really to draw attention. We’re not going to stop every car that’s leaving a parking lot. We can’t control that movement, but it at least lets everyone know something is going on.”

Clawson sees these incidents every day. It’s a heart-stopping moment that could end in tragedy.

“Last Friday, I was making a stop. We had some kids that didn’t know where they were supposed to get off,” said Clawson. “A passenger vehicle behind me, after waiting two minutes, decided that’s long enough — wide-open throttle — passed the bus while we were making an active passenger stop,” said Clawson. “That child that was about ready to get off next was going to cross the road.”

One bus driver says during his six years behind the wheel, he’s lost count of the times drivers have passed his stopped bus. When drivers break that law, all he can do is turn on the camera and hope that person is held accountable.

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