Parents, school officials urge drivers to stop for school buses

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It's becoming a growing problem at school bus stops across the state -- distracted and defiant drivers refusing to stop for school buses. It's happening at an alarming rate.

It's becoming a growing problem at school bus stops across the state -- distracted and defiant drivers refusing to stop for school buses. It's happening at an alarming rate.

Now, state officials are putting out a warning as students prepare to head back to school.

One Wake County mother told ABC11 that says she fears for her daughter's safety. Karen Taylor waits at the bus stop everyday with her 5-year-old daughter, Abigail. She says it's too dangerous to let her go alone.

"The bus will put the lights on way down the road here so it's visible for everyone to see, but several times people haven't stopped," said Taylor.

Abigail recently began kindergarten, and Taylor has already witnessed many drivers speed past Abigail's stopped school bus at the intersection of Barwell Road and Shirley Street in Raleigh.

"In about five or six days, it happened about three times," said Taylor. "It could cost a child their life, and I wouldn't want it to be my child."

Thirteen students have died in North Carolina since 1998 as a result of drivers passing stopped school buses. Five of those fatalities happened in the past two years.

"The problem is persisting," said Derek Graham, section chief of transportation services at N.C. Dept. of Instruction. "Three-thousand times a day or more during the school year a motorist illegally passes a stopped school bus in North Carolina."

N.C. DPI tracks those drivers with the help of new cameras strategically placed on select school buses throughout the state.

Passing a stopped school bus is against the law in North Carolina. All traffic must stop on a two-lane road, a two-lane road with a center turn lane or a four-lane road without a median.

On a four-lane highway divided by a media n or with a center turn lane, only traffic behind the bus is required to stop.

Drivers caught breaking the law can be prosecuted and face a minimum fine of $500. If a child is seriously hurt or killed, the penalty could result in jail time.

"It's not rocket science," said Graham. "There's a caution light flashing. There's a big yellow school bus around. That means there may be kids around. You have to be careful."

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