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School bus-related traffic violations rise

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By Staff Reports

HILLSVILLE — Virginia State Police charged six motorists in Hillsville last week for passing stopped school buses in Carroll County.

Several buses in the county’s fleet are equipped with camera systems that record the entire routes daily. As a result of the camera systems, motorists who pass stopped school buses are also recorded, and the state police actively uses the recordings to charge and prosecute motorists who violate those laws.

Passing a stopped school bus that is picking up or discharging children is punishable as a charge of reckless driving. Conviction of such an offense carries a possible penalty of a jail sentence up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

“The safety of our children is our primary concern,” said Virginia State Police Sgt. Mike Musser. “One child who gets injured or killed in a crash is too many.”

Musser said that the incidents happened on Stuart Drive, just west of the traffic light, and occurred on both mornings and evenings.

“Similar incidents have occurred in different places in the county, but the largest concentration are in Hillsville where traffic volume is higher and it often involves more than one lane,” noted Musser.

According to Musser, the stopped school bus law states that, even if there is more than one lane in each direction, motorists must stop when approaching from the opposite direction, unless there is a physical barrier between the vehicle and the bus, such as a grassy median.

The Hillsville incidents, he said, involve roads with one lane going west and two lanes approaching the traffic light.