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NEWS RELEASES 2004-05 :: DECEMBER 16, 2004


Two North Carolina elementary school students and one former middle school student received top honors in North Carolina's 2004 National School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest, "Flashing Red Means Stop Ahead."

Evan Warren, a student at North Buncombe Elementary (Buncombe County Schools) was the Division 1 (K-2 grades) winner, Marie Zambano, a student at Battleground Elementary (Lincoln County Schools) won first place in Division 2 (3-5 grades), and Terrill Carmichael, a former Jamestown Middle School student and currently a Ragsdale High student, won first place in Division 3 (6-8 grades). As first place winners, each received a $50 savings bond sponsored by the Governor's Highway Safety Program and had their posters featured, along with other category winners, on the School Bus Safety Web site at (click on the link under What's New).

The National School Bus Safety Poster Contest theme highlights the critical need for motorists to heed the warnings displayed by the amber and red lights of the school bus. Amber lights signal that motorists should use caution as children are nearby. Flashing red lights mean a motorist must stop as children are getting on or off the school bus.

Data collected by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Transportation Services Section found that motorists illegally pass a stopped school bus between 1,500 and 2,500 times PER DAY statewide.

NC DPI Transportation Services Section Chief Derek Graham said these figures highlight a very serious safety concern for students traveling to and from school. "What driver doesn't instinctively hit the brakes when they see a ball roll across the street? They know that children are playing nearby. Shouldn't drivers have the same instinct when they see the flashing red lights of a stopped school bus?" Although the penalties for passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights are stiff (points added to your license and a fine), numbers indicate people still disobey the law on a daily basis.

For more information on the state's school bus transportation system or stop arm violations, please go online to the School Bus Safety Web site at or contact Derek Graham, Transportation Services, DPI, 919.807.3571, or by email,

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.