by Charlotte Smith
School is back in session for all Bladen County students. Recently a concerned citizen contacted BladenOnline about traffic issues at a local school.
Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker confirmed the School Resource Officers stationed at the schools are patrolling the traffic. However, it is up to motorists to practice safe driving.
According to the latest data by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, in 2018, reportable traffic crashes increased by 2.4 percent. The number of fatalities increased by 3.3 percent compared to those in 2017, and 21.6 percent of all traffic crash fatalities were related to speeding.
With students returning to classes, drivers must remember to use caution around school zones and school buses. Below are five safety tips to remember while traveling through school zones and around school buses.
- School Zone speed limits in most areas are between 15 mph and 35 mph. Motorists most always obey speed limits. Fines may increase for speeding in a school zone. It is a good habit to slow down when traveling near schools, bus stops, and playgrounds.
- Distractions can cause crashes. Drivers must stay alert. Do not use mobile phones, adjust audio systems, eat food or concentrate on other things while driving through a school zone or around a school bus. In NC, it is illegal for drivers under 18 years of age to use a cellphone while driving. Safe traveling should be the only task a driver is concerned with while maneuvering around school property.
- Students should have a safe drop-off and pick-up area. Sidewalks and crosswalks should be used when available. Do not allow children to exit a vehicle in the middle of the road.
- Drivers should always yield to pedestrians. Also, a motorist should never pass a vehicle stopped by a pedestrian.
- Motorists must comply with school bus safety rules. According to NCDOT, there is a $500 penalty for motorists caught passing a stopped school bus with a five-point penalty on their driver’s license. Felony charges await a driver who passes a stopped school bus and strikes a person.
These are only some of the things to remember while driving near school zones. Find more tips and information at NCDOT.gov.