CHARLOTTE, NC – Charlotte-Mecklenburg School bus drivers will join a statewide stop-arm violation count Wednesday. The effort is aimed at showcasing the scope of the problem.
“Oh, it’s a big problem. It happens every day," said Teresa Neely, a 25-year veteran driver.
On Wednesday, every single school bus driver in North Carolina will tally the number of drivers that speed through the bus’ stop-arm. Last year, during a similar count, 721 drivers ignored the stop arm in Mecklenburg County alone. It’s estimated the number is roughly 2000 statewide.
“They're driving too fast. And we're trying to pick up kids, and they're not paying attention,” said Neely.
Prosecution of offenders is often difficult, too.
Neely said bus drivers are focused on the road and student passengers, which makes getting an offender vehicle description and complete tag number challenging.
CMS is currently taking bids for exterior cameras that would monitor drivers violating the stop arm.
“We can get description, and we can get a letter or two, but that camera will get everything. And that might slow them down because they know they're being watched," said Neely.
A timeline isn’t known for when the cameras will be installed, or how many buses will get fitted with the technology.
“We will get them, we just don't know when,” said Janet Thomas, CMS north zone transportation operation director.
Driving through a school bus stop arm can result in $500 ticket.