RALEIGH, N.C. — A new bill aims to allow all school buses in North Carolina to drive up to 55 mph.
The current speed limit for school buses in the state is 45 mph, although school activity buses can go up to 55 mph.
Primary sponsor Rep. Mark Brody told the North Carolina House transportation committee on Tuesday that the bill stems from his own experience driving a truck on an expressway and having to “veer around” school buses that were traveling at 45 mph. He called slow-moving buses in those high-speed roads “a hazard.”
Brody also noted that surrounding states, including Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina, allow their school buses to drive faster than 45 mph, and he said that a survey sent to those states found that they haven’t had safety issues with their higher school bus speed limits.
The 55 mph speed limit proposed in the North Carolina bill would apply to loaded and unloaded school buses.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is neutral on the bill.
Rep. Larry Pittman said during the Tuesday committee meeting that some motorists take "stupid chances trying to get around these slow buses on the interstate and that sort of thing. And so I'm in favor of allowing [school buses] to go a little faster on those highways.”
But Rep. Mike Stone was among those who took issue with the proposal. He said that as a father of school-age children, he was concerned about the bill’s priorities.
“I don’t care if they get there 5 minutes early or 10 minutes late — I just care that they get home,” Stone said after mentioning his 6-year-old and 10-year-old. “I can understand how people want those buses to go faster. … But the most important thing is that those buses get there safely and get home safely. So therefore, I’m having a lot of difficulty with this bill.”
Brody noted that school districts throughout the state would still have the option of limiting their school buses to 45 mph.
The transportation committee discussed the bill at length during the Tuesday meeting but has not yet voted on it. If the bill passes the transportation committee, it will proceed to the education committee.
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