Schools reopen Monday on Outer Banks; stay alert for stopped buses, speed zones

With in-person instruction returning Monday for many Outer Banks school students, its a good time to review the rules of the road when it comes to school buses on North Carolina’s highways.

School zones along U.S. 158 are clearly marked with flashing lights and signs in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head at the elementary schools.

The speed limit on Croatan Highway drops to 35 mph in the mornings and afternoon adjacent to the schools.

School zones are also located along Dogwood Trail in Southern Shores, N.C. 12 in Buxton, U.S. 64 through Manteo and Colington Road in Kill Devil Hills.

Drivers should also be aware to stop in all directions of travel when a school buses’ red flashing lights are on and the stop arm is extended on all roads with four lanes or less.

However, under North Carolina law, traffic coming from the opposite direction along the five-lane U.S. 158 can continue traveling because there is a dividing turn-lane between the travel lanes.

Motorists are encouraged to assist the Highway Patrol in reporting dangerous drivers by dialing *HP (*47) from their mobile device. Callers are requested to provide their location, nature of offense observed and description of the vehicle in question.

According to NHTSA data, from 2004 to 2013, 327 school-age children died in school-transportation-related crashes; 54 were occupants of school transportation vehicles, 147 were occupants of other vehicles, 116 were pedestrians and nine were pedal cyclists.

There were more school-age pedestrians killed between the hours of 7 and 8 a.m. and between 3 and 4 p.m. than any other hours of the day.

The N.C. Highway Patrol says 3,100 vehicles pass stopped school buses on an average day.

A new law passed in 2017 increases the penalty for passing a stopped school bus to at least $400, and allows images from cameras on school buses to be used to issue tickets like those given to drivers that run red lights at intersections.

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach him at [email protected]