Distracted driving dangerous as school year begins in North Carolina

Motorists should put down their cellphones and watch for stopped school buses in North Carolina this year.

As children across North Carolina return to school, the issue of school bus safety must be addressed.

At the end of the last school year, researchers recorded instances in which other motorists failed to stop for school buses in North Carolina. During one day in March, 3,153 drivers illegally passed school buses that were stopped to pick up or drop off children.

In North Carolina, the law requires other motorists to come to a complete stop whenever a school bus is stopped with a stop sign extended or flashing red lights on. Other drivers cannot continue on their way until the stop sign has been lifted, the flashing red lights turned off and the school bus has started to move.

Officials in North Carolina are particularly concerned about motorists failing to abide by the school bus law, as the consequences can be tragic. Since 1999, 13 children in North Carolina have died when a motorist failed to come to a halt for a stopped school bus.

North Carolina motorists: Keep your eyes on the road

One way North Carolina drivers can ensure they always abide by the school bus law is by putting down their cellphones when on the road.

North Carolina law prohibits school bus drivers from using any type of cellphone when driving, including both handheld phones and those that can be operated hands free.

Other drivers in North Carolina, however, are only prohibited from texting while on the road. Consequently, motorists could be trying to make a phone call when driving by a school bus and fail to notice that the stop sign has been extended.

As a result, it is a good idea for drivers in North Carolina to maintain their focus on the road and wait to use their cellphone until they have reached their destination.

Distracted driving contributes to a significant number of auto accidents in the United States each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2012, almost 3,330 people were killed in distracted driving collisions across the country. Distracted drivers were also responsible for about 421,000 people suffering serious injuries in car accidents that year.

Seek legal counsel following a distracted driving crash

Distracted drivers who cause motor vehicle accidents should be held responsible for the injuries suffered by others involved in the crash. If you or a loved one has been involved in a distracted driving collision in North Carolina, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss protecting your interests.

Keywords: distracted driving, North Carolina