RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s the beginning of the school year for many districts and that means more yellow buses on the road.

Law enforcement agencies, schools and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are all urging drivers to follow school bus laws. In 2020, NCDOT reported 398 crashes involving school buses. Those crashed resulted in 23 injuries and two deaths.

Mecklenburg County had the highest number of crashes that year with 70. Wake County had the second most with 36, according to state numbers.

Red flashing lights and extended stop arms means children are getting on or off the school bus. State law requires drivers stop and only continue driving when the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving. That rule applies for drivers in both directions unless there is:

  • Four-lane roadway with a median – Only traffic following the bus must stop
  • Four or more lanes with a center turning lane – Only traffic following the bus must stop

Not following these laws could come at hefty cost.

North Carolina law states any person violating this law is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Drivers must pay a minimum fine of $500. And a second violation could result in a one-year revocation of your driver’s license.

If you break this law and hit someone, state law counts this as a Class 1 felony punishable with a $1,250 fine. Drivers could also be subject to revoked license for two years.

If a driver kills someone as a result of not stopping for a school bus, this would be a Class H felony punishable with a $2,500 fine. A driver’s license could be revoked for three years under the state’s law.

A driver’s license could be permanently revoked the drivers license if a person us found guilty of a second felony or a third misdemeanor violation of the school bus law.

While these are some hefty fines alone, they could be paired with other driving violations.