NC State Highway Patrol working to keep students safe through ‘Operation Stop Arm’

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — School bus safety has become a major topic of discussion for officials all over the nation. Here in North Carolina, the state’s highway patrol is hosting its annual ‘Operation Stop Arm’ campaign.

This annual campaign is running simultaneously with National School Bus Safety week. It’s all an effort to make sure people are educated and consistently focused when they get behind a wheel.

“It’s about enforcement but equally as important it’s about education, awareness,” said First Sgt. Christopher Knox with the NC State Highway Patrol.

A week of increased awareness around a specific group: students.

“When it comes to school bus safety, it doesn’t begin or end at state lines,” said Sgt. Knox.

Christopher Knox is a First Sergeant with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

“When it comes to school bus safety, it doesn’t begin or end at state lines,” said Sgt. Knox.

Sergeant Knox notes that actually, most of the time stopped school busses are passed isn’t necessarily because of impatience, but because of a lack in focus.

“What we see so often is that people are not trying to pass stopped school busses, oftentimes they’re not looking, they’re distracted,” said Sgt. Knox. “We know you can’t stop for a school bus if you don’t even see it so putting the phone down, paying attention to the take at hand, driving.”

He notes that yes, this week is mostly about education and awareness, but it’s also to help outline the consequences of those who break the law.

“There are stiff punishments in place. A misdemeanor for passing a stopped school bus and a felony if you were to strike, injure or kill a child. But we don’t want it to ever get to that point,” said Sgt. Knox.

He says their agency wants people to know that keeping yourself and these students safe is important for everyone to care about.

“You don’t have to have a child in your home that rides the bus for this to be important and for this to be at the forefront of your mind while driving,” said Sgt. Knox.

When asked about how they can enforce these punishments, Sergeant Knox tells me they have marked and unmarked cars following school busses more than people may think.

Click here for a list of resources on how to keep students safe.

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