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January 10, 2013  |   Comments (5)   |   Post a comment

Father of teen killed by stop-arm running speaks out

By Thomas McMahon


STONEVILLE, N.C. — Nearly four years ago, Nicholas Adkins was crossing the street to board his school bus here when he was struck by a vehicle that failed to stop for the bus.

The 16-year-old was killed in the January 2009 stop-arm running incident. Later that year, North Carolina legislators and the governor passed the Nicholas Adkins School Bus Safety Act, which added two major provisions to existing school bus stop law:

• If a driver illegally passes a school bus and a child is killed, the driver would now be charged with a Class H felony, which carries increased penalties and jail time compared to the previous law.

• School districts were authorized to mount cameras outside the bus, on or near the bus’ stop arm. Footage from these cameras became admissible as evidence in court.

In the summer of 2011, a pilot program began in which stop-arm camera systems made by Fortress Mobile were installed on school buses in five North Carolina counties.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, as of October 2012, 23 stop-arm violation citations had been issued among the five piloting counties as a result of the camera system.

In a one-day tally in 2012, North Carolina school bus drivers counted 3,196 vehicles illegally passing their buses. (The national count last year was 88,025 violations in a day.)

State pupil transportation director Derek Graham told SBF that five students have been struck by motorists passing school buses in North Carolina this school year. Two of those students were killed.

With the Jan. 26 anniversary of Nicholas Adkins’ death approaching, his father spoke with WFMY News 2, and he gave a stark reminder of the dangers of stop-arm running.

"People need to realize what they're doing. They're taking people's lives in their hands when they pass a stopped school bus — plain and simple," William Adkins told the news outlet. “When you're going through somewhere that you know every day they're picking up kids, at a school bus stop, you pay attention. It only takes a split second when you've got several thousand pounds of steel hitting a child. It's over and done with. That's it. There's no taking it back."

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Read more about: fatalities, North Carolina, stop arm running/illegal passing, video surveillance

And I believe California is the only state in the USA that escorts students across the street. You think this would be a no brainer but I have talked to other states bus drivers and they are more worried about what is going on in their bus when the driver is out of the bus escorting students. Duh! What makes more sense and is safer. Yea California!!!

Steven    |    Feb 12, 2013 03:59 PM

I agree, in California it is LAW for the driver to get out of the bus and cross the student regardless of their grade or age. It only makes total sense. I think other states should look into the reason why California has such an outstanding safety record. It doesn't cost the district or state any money. Just saying!

Traca    |    Jan 15, 2013 07:31 PM

Being a NYS school bus driver for 20 years. I know that all the flashing lights and cameras added to a school bus will not stop vehicles from going through. Cameras mounted on the side will only witness the violators action after they have injured or killed the crossing student. Thoroughly educate your drivers to tell the students on a daily basis as they disembark the bus to wait for the safe hand signal. I also use the "Steffi Crosser" So my students can clearly see that hand signal through the reflection and glare on the windshield. And remind them "If you don't see this, You don't cross". Remind them to look both ways, for in reality they make the final call. It is so effective what a "few words" and a "symbol" can do for the safety of our students. That's what it's about, educating the student and being repetitive about it. That's our job, stay with it. @California comment... I believe it is only K-8 you disembark and cross the students, In this case it was a 16 yr. old boy. They cross themselves in your state, correct? All ages need to be educated and reminded everyday if need be to ensure their safety. Doing this my fellow drivers the death rate through out this country can be close to eradication. How great would that progress be for us.

Victoria    |    Jan 11, 2013 07:36 AM

The solution is easy: ESCORTED CROSSING! We do it here in California, we have an extremely good safety record...this should be a a federal law. No more run over kids!

Buslady    |    Jan 10, 2013 09:37 PM

Cameras and new laws won't necessarily improve safety. The better safety measure would be to choose bus stop locations that don't require children to cross in the middle of a street. Teach children to cross at intersections, and to watch for traffic instead of running haphazardly in front of the bus and across the street. Reduce traffic interference by not stopping the bus on streets with high traffic densities. Finally, there should be a parent present to pick up any child who is too young to understand traffic safety and how to cross a street without assistance. By minimizing the dangers of crossing streets when the bus is stopped, the red stop lights on the bus become unnecessary, as the risk of a pedestrian collision will be about the same as when the bus isn't there.

Alexander Rogge    |    Jan 10, 2013 09:26 PM

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