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School leaders say drivers passing stopped school buses is a real problem

School leaders say it’s a real problem – drivers passing stopped school buses as children cross the street.

“Generally, in a one day count, we have several hundred violations that are reported,” said Jeff Harris, director of transportation with Guilford County Schools.

“We probably average 100 violations a day here in Forsyth County,” said Darrell Taylor, executive director of transportation for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Aime Lawson is a bus driver for WSFCS.

She says drivers passing stopped school buses is an “epidemic.”

“The minute they step foot on my bus, they’re my children and I’m very protective, and it makes me extremely angry to see people be so careless around children,” Lawson said.

WSFCS is doing more to catch violators.

This year, the district added six stop arm cameras to buses.

There are 42 stop arm cameras within its fleet.

However, the issue isn’t only catching drivers in the act, it’s getting them to obey the law in the first place.

Guilford County Schools is investing in additional extended stop arms.

“The extended stop arm just puts another stop sign in the opposing lane of traffic, six-feet away from the bus and our goal is to try to attract more attention,” Harris said.

Right now, GCS has 25 buses with extended stop arms - most of them are in the High Point area.

The school system is planning to add 25 more which will be placed in other areas in the county.

They will be installed late September.

Lawson appreciates the efforts to deter drivers from passing stopped school buses, but she also believes drivers need to take responsibility.

“There are lives in your hands and if you’re late now, you’re going to be a lot later if you hurt someone.”

GCS says that it had 28 reported stop arm violations last school year.

The reason why the reported number is lower than the actual number of incidents is because a report requires detailed information.

Harris says drivers have to identify the driver of a vehicle, the license plate, the color of the vehicle, as well as the make and model in a matter of seconds.

He says they instruct drivers to focus their attention on student safety; therefore, drivers often miss information needed for a report.

WSFCS had 182 reported incidents of stop arm violations last school year.