This month, as nearly 1.5 million students return to classrooms across North Carolina, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who also serves as Chair of Safe Kids N.C., is reminding everyone to keep safety in mind when walking, driving, or riding the bus to school.
“We all have an important role to play in keeping our children safe,” said Commissioner Causey. “Drivers need to be on the lookout for crowded crosswalks and school buses on the road and parents need to talk to their children about the importance of traveling to school safely. It only takes one mistake to cause a tragic injury or death to a child.”
While students on traditional calendars will go back to school on Aug. 28, students at year-round schools and some charter schools have already started boarding buses and have headed back to class.
Statistics highlight the need for a call to action. On a typical day, more than 14,000 school buses carrying nearly 800,000 students operate on North Carolina roads. According to DOT, there were 1,075 crashes involving school buses in 2022. A total of 786 people were injured and eight people died.
There were also 5,189 charges for speeding in a school zone and 968 charges for failure to stop for a stopped bus.
In addition to the safety concerns these charges carry, they also hold repercussions to motorists’ auto insurance premiums. Passing a stopped school bus can result in the motorist adding four insurance points to their policy and potentially doubling their auto insurance premiums.
When driving, if you see a school bus with lights flashing, slow down and prepare to stop.
• Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children.
• Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
Passing a stopped school bus can result in the motorist adding four insurance points to their policy and potentially doubling their auto insurance premiums.
Please click the following link for broadcast quality video on Back-to-School Safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY0aymQWXGI
Commissioner Causey also offers these safety tips as students and teachers head back to school:
• Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the street or road, walk facing traffic.
• Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming. Never dart out in front of a parked car.
• Parents: Practice walking to school with your child, crossing streets or crosswalks when available.
• Never walk while texting or talking on the phone.
• Do not walk while using headphones.
For bike riders:
• Always wear a helmet that is fitted and secured properly.
• Children need to know the rules of the road: Ride single file on the right side of the road, come to a complete stop before crossing the street and walk the bike across.
• Watch for opening car doors and other hazards.
• Use hand signals when turning.
• Wear bright-colored clothing.
For bus riders:
• Teach children the proper way to get on and off the bus.
• Line up six feet away from the curb as the bus approaches.
• If seat belts are available, buckle up.
• Wait for the bus to stop completely before standing.
• If you must cross the road, walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus.
For motorists, in addition to obeying the stopped school bus law:
• Don’t block crosswalks.
• Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and take extra precaution in school zones.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
• Stop far enough back from a school bus to allow children room to safely enter and exit the bus. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.
For more information on how to keep children safe during Back-to-School Safety Month or throughout the year, visit SafeKidsNC.org