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School bus safety stressed

It’s nearly impossible not see a big, yellow bus traveling along the highways of the Roanoke-Chowan area.

However, some motorists have an apparent total disregard for these large vehicles, a popular mode of transportation for young children to travel to and from school. Thus, these children are at risk on the roadways, five days a week, approximately 180 days per year.

But there are those looking out for the best interests of these children.

Next week (Feb. 7-11), North Carolina Governor Mike Easley is calling upon all state motorists to play it safe while sharing the same road with school buses as well obeying all traffic laws pertaining to school zones. The Governor is hopeful that the repetition gained by repeating these safety standards during the week will carry over throughout the school year.

Gov. Easley has declared Feb. 7-11 as &uot;Watch Out for the Child&uot; Week in North Carolina. The North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, through the North Carolina Highway Patrol, is following the Governor’s lead by enacting &uot;Operation Stop Arm&uot; – a safety initiative to reduce collisions and fatalities involving school buses by enforcing all traffic laws involving these vehicles and around all school zones.

First Sgt. B.A. Jones of the Highway Patrol’s Troop A office in Ahoskie said his troopers are always observant of those who violate traffic laws regarding school buses.

&uot;This is an issue we take very seriously every day that buses are operating on the roads here in Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties,&uot; Jones said. &uot;Stop and think for just a moment of how many passengers are on these buses. All it would take is one bad decision, made in a split second, to put these young children in harm’s way.&uot;

Even though Sgt. Jones noted earlier that school bus safety is high on his and his trooper’s priority list, that level will reach new heights next week.

&uot;We will be out in force during the times these buses normally operate and on the lookout for those breaking the motor vehicle laws, the ones that especially place these young children in jeopardy,&uot; he stressed.

In Easley’s proclamation for &uot;Watch Out For The Child&uot; week, the Governor cited some hard, cold facts – more than 12,900 operate on state roadways every school day; school bus stop arm violations increased to 2,188 last year; and every year, state schoolchildren are killed or injured in traffic collisions involving school buses.

&uot;I call upon all of our citizens to safeguard our children’s lives by driving safe and prudent upon the observation of a school bus,&uot; said the Governor in his proclamation.