Bus drivers, law enforcement officers prepare for back to school

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Bus drivers and law enforcement officers are working to make sure the roads as safe as possible for kids, heading back to school in just 2 weeks.

Bus drivers have been training in classes and on the roads to better understand new laws, practices, and routes, all in preparation to transport thousands of kids every day. They have to pass certain tests to become a driver and must renew their license every 3 years.

NC DMV School Bus and Traffic Safety Supervisor James Horton says bus drivers are still adjusting to hand signals, implemented earlier this year, telling students when it’s safe to cross.

“They’re training the kids and implementing it and I think it’s going very well and I think it’s very needed. Anything that deals with safety, if we can save one child, that’s very important. It’s lives, it’s about saving lives. It’s about no child being hurt,” Horton said.

New this year, drivers must put the bus in neutral and set the parking brake at each stop.

5 North Carolina students were hurt by drivers passing stopped school buses in 2015, and state leaders say that’s 5 too many. That’s why Highway Patrol Troopers are cracking down on drivers.

Earlier this year, WNCT reported on troopers stepping up enforcement in and around school zones in the East as part of Operation Safer Schools. In 2 months, 7 people were charged for passing a stopped school bus, 8 for distracted driving, and 36 for speeding through school zones.

“We saw some target areas that we need to revisit and we’re going to be looking in those areas again. It’s not just in the school zones; we’re going to try to slow them down before they get there. We’re also going to be doing school bus ride-alongs and we’re going to be following school buses and those will be done with unmarked cars as well,” said Trooper Doug Coley.

In Pitt County alone, more than 200 school buses transport 13,500 kids every day.

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