RALEIGH -It's back to school time for nearly 1.5 million students across the state Monday, which means North Carolina's roads will be jam-packed with cars, buses and pedestrians.
As we prepare for the new school year, the N.C. Department of Transportation urges students and motorists to stay alert and exercise caution on the road, especially around crosswalks, school buses and bus stops.
Each year in North Carolina, more than 2,000 pedestrians are injured and 160 are killed in collisions with vehicles. In the last two school years, five students have been killed either crossing the road to or from a bus or while standing at a bus stop.
" Keeping our students safe is a priority and these tragic accidents can be avoided if we all practice simple safety measures, "said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. "We urge students to be careful when crossing the street and drivers to do their part by keeping a close eye on students who are getting on or off school buses, as well as students and teachers who are walking to and from school."
NCDOT offers students a few basic rules of safety as they head back to school: Cross in the crosswalk. Look for cars in all directions-including those turning left or right-before crossing the street; neverassume adriver will stop. Be careful when crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Make sure each lane of traffic is clear before you cross. Pay attention to where you're walking and take the focus off your cell phone or other electronic device. A momentof distraction could have disastrous consequences. Be predictable to drivers and follow the rules of the road-obey signs and signals. Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic. Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the road as you can.
NCDOT reminds motorists of these basic driving tips as the new school year approaches:
Always stop for a stopped school bus.If the lights are flashing and the stop sign is out, you must stop, including inthe following situations:
If you are traveling a two-lane road, all traffic in both directions must stop. If you are traveling a two-lane road with a center turn lane, all traffic from both directions must stop. If you are traveling a four-lane road without a median separation, all traffic from both directions must stop.If you are traveling a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation, only traffic following the bus must stop. If you are traveling a road with four or more lanes with a center turn lane, only traffic following the bus must stop. Be prepared to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Never pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians. Before making a turn, be sure the path is clear of any pedestrians. Slow down in areas where you are likely to find pedestrians, such as near bus stops, schools and playgrounds. Avoid distractions such as food, passengers and using mobile devices.
North Carolina has stiff penalties for motorists who fail to comply with school bus safety rules. There is a $500 penalty for motorists who are caught passing a stopped school bus, with the possibility of licenserevocation. There is a $250 penalty for speeding in a school zone in North Carolina. Passing a stopped school bus can cost motorists five points on their driver's license and eight points forcommercial vehicles.
For more information, visit the Watch for Me NC campaign website to learn more