GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Kids across the Carolinas are heading back to class, and law enforcement agencies are warning others to practice safe driving.
The Gaston County Police Chief’s Association is launching Operation BOLO this week. It stands for "Be On the Look Out for our children."
Authorities want drivers to be aware that school is back in session, and there will be many more school buses on the roads. This week is all about education, but next week they’ll be out in full force to catch drivers breaking the law.
“We need to be paying attention to these children, these school buses, paying attention to your surroundings," Captain Billy Downey with Gaston County Police said.
Agencies across Gaston County are joining forces to educate drivers and enforce the laws — making sure students get to and from school safely.
“We’re trying to prevent any type of fatalities," Captain Downey said. "We don’t want any children hurt crossing roads, but we also want our young drivers, our new drivers, who maybe [it's the] first time they’ve ever driven to school, that they know they shouldn’t be on their phone.”
Every year, drivers are caught on camera flying straight past school buses as children get out. The North Carolina Department of Transportation says, on average, there are nearly 3,000 incidents of cars passing stopped school buses each school day in NC.
It got so bad in Lancaster County, South Carolina, the district added stop-arm cameras on school buses. So when a vehicle passes in that direction, the camera records the tag going past the bus.
Gaston County officials are now making sure drivers know when to stop and where to slow down. Officials urge others to remember it could be their child or family member trying to safely cross the road.
“Is getting there that important that you need to pass a stopped school bus or take a chance of hurting or injuring a child?” Captain Downey asked.