The North Carolina Department of Instruction has just approved 300 additional Extended Stop Arms to be installed on school buses in North Carolina. This will be the second time the Department of Public Instruction has invested in the value of the Extended Stop Arm. Bus Safety Solutions, a Clemmons based company, invented, and patented The Extended Stop Arm after several children were killed getting on and off the school bus in Forsyth County. The Extended Stop Arm is designed to reduce or eliminate the illegal passing of stopped school buses which has become epidemic nationwide. A pilot program was done in 9 NC counties in 2015 which totaled 60 school buses funded by the state. Guilford County has purchased 15 Extended Stop Arms on their own since then. Where the Extended Stop Arm has been installed so far, illegal passing of stopped school buses has been dramatically reduced by 50% to 90%. The Extended Stop Arm has now been installed in 6 states.
The Extended Stop Arm is an aluminum frame that attaches to the original stop arm and has a stop sign on the end with LED lights. It extends 6.5 feet into the adjacent lane. The electrical system integrates with current electrical system on the bus so the bus driver has no additional buttons to push. The Extended Stop Arm is operated by an electronic board and a linear actuator that also holds the Extended Stop Arm securely on the side of the bus. The Extended Stop Arm is held together with nylon shear pins so that if the sign is hit, it will shear off without doing too much damage. If a vehicle does disregard the sign and hits it, it is just as if they had hit the bus. The vehicle will be in the danger zone of the stopped bus and is against the law. It will always be the driver of the vehicles fault if they hit the Extended Stop Arm.
While the camera’s that are on some school buses provide great detective work by retrieving pictures of drivers and license plates, they cannot “physically” protect the children like the Extended Stop Arm can. On March 27th, a 16-year-old boy was trying to board his bus in front of his home and was hit and killed by a vehicle that did not stop. That bus did have a camera on the front of the bus. So now 14 Children have been killed in North Carolina since 1999 trying to get on or off a stopped school bus. And, according to the NC Department of Public instruction more than 3100 stopped school buses are passed each day in our state. DPI and other school systems in several states are buying into the product because of the blatant disregard of people passing stopped school buses and endangering children’s lives. The Extended Stop Arm is a proven product and exceeds the Federal Standard 571.131 for School Bus Pedestrian Safety Devices. It is well within the range of School System budgeting costing $1250 per Extended Stop Arm. The Extended Stop Arm can save a child’s life, and if it can save just one child, it is more than worth it.
Now a total of 22 NC Counties will have the Extended Stop Arms by the end of this school year. The Counties in the Piedmont Triad are Stokes, Yadkin, Guilford, Randolph, Rowan, and Montgomery. Other Counties include Transylvania, Alexander, Wilkes, Iredell, Cabarrus, Chatham, Cumberland, Bladen, Columbus, New Hanover, Pender, Onslow, Duplin, and Pitt Counties. Forsyth County again did not want to participate.
North Carolina is going to lead the nation and set a standard of excellence in School Bus Safety.