NC bus drivers to give hand signals when students can cross

In an attempt to reduce the number of students hit by motorists, North Carolina school bus drivers will now give hand signals telling students when it’s safe to cross the road.

The revised policy was approved Thursday by the State Board of Eduucation in response to how five North Carolina students were injured by motorists passing stopped school buses this past school year. More than 3,000 vehicles illegally pass stopped school buses each day.

Bus drivers will hold a palm up to students telling them to wait before they cross the road to board the bus or after they’ve gotten off. When it’s safe, the driver will give a “thumbs up” and point out the direction students should walk to cross the street.

The policy change goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016, but school districts can implement it sooner.

The Wake County school system will use the hand signals in conjunction with a new process that will be used for boarding buses. Instead of students’ sprinting out when the red flashing lights turn on and the stop-arm sign pops out, they’ll have to wait until the bus driver indicates it’s safe to leave the bus stop by also swinging out the crossing gate on the front of the bus.