Students at Holly Grove Middle School hope their plan to improve safety at school bus stops will help them win a national contest and even save lives.
The group was chosen to be one of 10 national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest for their bus stop sign that flashes when a bus approaches, hoping to alert drivers and students waiting at a stop that the bus is near.
“We also interviewed some bus drivers, and everybody has pretty much said that there have been a lot of stop-arm violations,” said sixth-grader Deija Reed. “My friend almost got hit by a car crossing the road.”
Data from a March 2018 N.C. Department of Public Instruction report shows nearly 3,000 incidents in one year of cars passing school buses when they should have stopped to allow kids to get on or off the bus.
Wake County bus drivers reported 290 of those incidents, while Cumberland County had 210 and Durham County had 86.
With many of the children involved in the project at Holly Grove being bus riders themselves, they wanted to find a way to improve safety.
Their design utilizes an app on a phone in the bus to communicate to a solar-powered sign when the bus is within 300 feet of it. The sign flashes different colors to indicate that the bus is about to stop or pull away.
In addition to alerting other drivers that the bus intends to stop, it acts as an additional warning to kids that the bus is approaching when they may be distracted or unable to hear the bus.
With the technology prize from Samsung and help from the Department of Transportation, the students were able to test out a prototype version of the design Friday.
Sixth-grader Simi Adetunji, said he thinks it’s “pretty cool because you get to do something that you’ve been planning on doing for a long time.”
The students also made a video about their project, which they’ll submit as they try to advance to the next round.
Among the 10 national finalists, three will be national winners and receive a $100,000 prize.
There will also be an opportunity for the community to vote online to help one of the 10 national finalists receive an additional prize. You can vote for the students here: