With thousands of students riding school buses throughout Sampson County, district and law enforcement officials are encouraging motorists to “Stop on Red.”
The theme is being used for National School Bus Safety Week (NSBSW), which is held each year during the third full week of October. Its purpose is to educate the public about the importance of safety. The effort is administered by the National Association for Pupil Transportation.
Vicki Westbrook, transportation director for Sampson County Schools, thanked her drivers for everything they do to keep students during the year.
“We would also like to remind the public to be cautious when behind or approaching a bus and always b prepared to stop for red lights and stop signs,” Westbrook said.
This year’s NSBSW theme, “#STOP ON RED!” comes from a poster contest from 2016. The winner was Branden Pagurayan, an eighth-grade student at Kapolei Middle School in Hawaii.
In recent years, there’s been several efforts to keep students safe on roads. This year, North Carolina legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper approved a law to allow districts to install cameras and capture footage of motorist who pass stopped school buses. In 2016, school bus drivers were required to use hand signals for students crossing roads. The idea was approved by the North Carolina State Board of Education.
During this week, the Sampson County branch of the North Carolina Highway Patrol will be monitoring school buses through its “Operation Stop Arm” campaign. First Sgt. David Kinlaw
“We’re going to focus on following school buses trying to catch people from running the stop signs,” Kinlaw said. We’ll concentrate on the school zones and the bus routes.”
According to reports, more than 6,000 students in Sampson County ride buses during the school year.
“There’s a lot of buses that run though the county on a daily basis and a lot of times the students are being picked up in the morning before daylight,” Kinlaw said.
With daylights savings time coming to an end Nov. 5, Kinlaw also encouraged motorist to be aware of students returning home from school too.
“When the time changes, some of them will probably be getting dropped off at dark,” he said. “I would like to remind motorists to be diligent around those buses and allow them plenty of time to stop, so the students can safely board and get off the buses.”
Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.