- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - School bus stop signs that extend across the adjacent lane haven’t deterred some drivers from trying to illegally pass.

Extended stop sign arms installed on 10 school buses in Kanawha County have been hit six times since the school year began in August, Brette Fraley, Kanawha County Schools executive transportation director, told The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1V9aDQ7).

In Cabell County, schools transportation director Joe Meadows said one driver hit an extended arm.

The 6-foot-long arms are attached to existing stop signs that fold out from buses.

Despite the hits, Fraley and Meadows said the extended arms have reduced illegal passing of school buses.

Cabell, Kanawha and Greenbrier counties participated in a pilot study of the extended arms in August. North Carolina-based Bus Safety Solutions donated 10 arms to each county.

Kanawha County school bus drivers reported that the extended arms have reduced illegal passing of stopped buses by 45 percent to 50 percent compared to the 2014-2015 school year, said Fraley, who plans to buy the arms donated for the pilot.

“I think they’re effective, I think they’ve been very good for community awareness and I think they’re something we’ll work with in the coming years to see how they fit in our operation,” Fraley said.

Meadows said he expects Cabell County to buy a few more extended arms for its buses.

The West Virginia Department of Education plans to allow all school districts to decide whether to buy and install the arm extensions, which cost $950 each. The department already has allowed Cabell, Kanawha and Greenbrier counties to buy the donated extensions, said department spokeswoman Kristin Anderson.

School systems in eight North Carolina counties also are using the arm extensions, said Brad Zabel, vice president of marketing and sales for Bus Safety Solutions. The company began selling the devices last year.

Illegal passing of school buses is a problem across the nation. A total of 78,518 vehicles illegally passed school buses in 26 states, including West Virginia, on a single day this year, according to an annual survey conducted by The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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