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NEWS RELEASES 1999-00 :: JANUARY 24, 2000


In a cooperative effort designed to increase awareness of the dangers of motorists passing stopped school buses, officials from the New Hanover County School System will join representatives from the Wilmington City Police Department and the State Highway Patrol this week to focus on education and enforcement to reduce the incidents of motorists passing stopped school buses.

Earlier this month, New Hanover County school bus drivers reported 75 incidents (average of 18.75 times per day), in a four-day period, of motorists passing stopped school buses with lights flashing. This figure is slightly down from daily averages of 22.5 and 20.6 reported in January and March of 1999.

The N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) will assist with this education effort by airing television advertisements titled, "The Bus Stops Here - And So Should You." DPI also will provide funds from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grant to the State Highway Patrol to provide additional troopers in areas where these incidents have occurred, in addition to their regularly scheduled observations of school bus routes.

Following the success of Onslow County schools last year, New Hanover County Schools recently installed video cameras on the outside of some of its school buses to videotape oncoming traffic. New Hanover County Schools Transportation Director Mick Wayne said that he anticipates that this will be a useful tool for education and enforcement.

School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation a child can take to school. Unfortunately, research shows the area around a stopped school bus can be dangerous. By education and enforcement of the law, officials hope to turn this situation around.

For additional information, please contact Mick Wayne, director, New Hanover County Schools Transportation Department, 910.254.4080; Dianne Avery, director of school/community relations for New Hanover County Schools, 910.254.4222; Derek Graham, section chief, Transportation Services, NC DPI, 919.807.3571; or Jeff Tsai, program director for Pupil Transportation, Institute for Transportation Research and Education, 919.515.9999, ext. 1.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.