CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As students get ready to get back to school next week, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is making sure everyone stays safe on the road.
On Thursday, police highlighted the number of crashes involving school buses in the past, to promote safety this school year. Last year, police ticketed more than 600 drivers. According to CMS, there were more than 350 accidents involving school buses during the 2015-16 school year.
CMPD announced a coordinated effort to crack down on drivers around school zones.
“This is the warning to the public,” says Sergeant Jesse Wood with CMPD.
CMPD released the number of drivers ticketed in school zones in the past couple years; 585 drivers in 2015 and 639 in 2016. Each ticket is $235 and three points on your license.
The fines more than double to a minimum $500 ticket, court costs, and five points on your license for anyone who passes a stopped school bus.
“If somebody is struck passing a stopped school bus, it automatically becomes a felony,” says Sergeant Wood.
Every year, CMS school buses are involved in hundreds of accidents. 410 accidents in the 2014-2015 school year and 353 the following year, according to the district.
“The speed limit is the speed limit, so if it’s 25 mph, you should not be going 27 mph,” says Sergeant Wood.
In June, a child was hit by a vehicle near Ballantyne Elementary school. Parents circulated a petition to improve safety.
“I signed the petition for the safety of the kids,” said one father.
This week, CMS announced several new safety steps at the school, including rerouting traffic during school hours.
Meanwhile, police are asking drivers to leave early and give themselves more time to reach their destination.