Better stop for the flashing lights

RALEIGH The North Carolina Highway Patrol will run Operation Stop Arm all week long and will have extra patrols in school zones. They'll also have unmarked cars following school buses to look for drivers who don't obey the red lights and extended stop arm.

North Carolina law says drivers in both directions must stop when a school bus has its arm extended - even on 4-lane roads. Drivers coming the opposite way on a 4-lane road can only keep going if there's a median or a center turn lane.

You can brush up on your knowledge about school buses or other rules of the road by reading the North Carolina driver's license handbook.

The Patrol says it catches thousands of drivers every year passing stopped buses. Earlier this year, Raleigh first-grader Ashley Ramos-Hernandez was getting off her school bus from Green Elementary School on North Hills Drive when police said an 83-year-old driver passed the stopped bus and hit her. The little girl was killed.

Passing a stopped school bus carries the heaviest penalty for drivers in North Carolina. A conviction carries the same weight as reckless driving and means a 5-point penalty on your license and as much as a 90 percent increase in your insurance premiums.

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