The majority of public schools in North Carolina begin the new year on Monday, and that means buses will be on area roads and expect increased traffic around schools in the morning and afternoon.
More than 14,000 school buses will be hitting the roadways, transporting over 790,000 children to and from school.
N.C. Highway Patrol troopers statewide will increase their focus in and around school zones, monitoring driver behavior both before and after school. Emphasis will also be placed on ensuring motorists stop for school buses as troopers will ride on various buses during their respective routes.
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 bus’ 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.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.