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BCPS bus drivers use new hand signals to boost student safety

posted Jan 5, 2016, 5:40 AM by Terri Willms   [ updated Jan 5, 2016, 5:41 AM ]
As students returned to class Monday, Jan. 4 and buses resumed routes to and from school, BCPS joined all school districts in the state in using a standard crossing signal to help protect students when they need to cross the street to board the bus or after exiting the bus. The new law went into effect Jan. 1. The school bus driver will first hold palm out indicating that students should WAIT before stepping into the roadway. After the driver has checked for safety, he or she will then give students a “thumbs up” indicating that the students should then check for traffic and then cross the street. The driver will indicate the direction to walk by pointing with his or her index finger. All students will watch the attached video at school explaining the process. Video - School Bus Safety BCPS bus drivers have been practicing and preparing for the new law since school started in August. In the three photos, BCPS Director of Transportation John Cansler demonstrates the three hand signals bus drivers will give the students. For more information, see the attached press release from the State Board of Education and DPI:

For immediate release

Dec. 30, 2015


School Bus Drivers to Use New Hand Signals;
Requirement Helps Boost Student Safety

School Bus

Beginning Jan. 1, all North Carolina public school bus drivers will be required to use hand signals to help students safely cross the road to board the bus. The North Carolina State Board of Education approved this revision to its bus safety policy at its July meeting.


In the 2014-15 academic year alone, five North Carolina students were injured by motorists passing stopped school buses. Since 1999, 13 students have been killed while boarding or exiting a school bus. North Carolina law requires motorists to stop and remain stopped while the bus has its stop sign and flashing red lights engaged. However, according to research conducted by NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) Transportation Services staff, most school bus-related student injuries and fatalities stem from drivers who disregard the school bus sign.


“We have over 15 years of data to show that more than 3,000 cars per day are not going to stop. It’s clear that public awareness campaigns alone won’t reverse this trend,” NCDPI Transportation Services Section Chief Derek Graham said. “The revised policy represents a more proactive approach to what bus drivers and students can do to stay safe even when motorists don’t obey the law.”


Drawing from national procedures as well as school bus safety standards and practices from across the country, the revised policy requires bus drivers to use a standard hand signal that tells students a roadway is safe to cross. The hand signal has the following three steps.

1.  Driver holds up his or her palm facing the student until it is safe to cross.

2.  Driver gives a “thumbs up” to the students.

3.  Driver points with his or her index finger the direction in which the child should proceed across the road.


The hand signals empower the driver, usually the only school system employee on the scene, and compel students to consciously assess the roadway by looking at their bus driver before stepping into an active road. A graphic presentation of this new signal is available online.


The revised school bus policy also requires that school districts document their training and provide training to all students, not just those who ride the bus.


Although this policy requirement becomes effective Jan. 1, some North Carolina school districts have already begun using the new hand signals. Visit the NC School Bus Safety website for more information on this policy or school bus safety in North Carolina.

Public Relations Officer
Burke County Public Schools
(w) 438-2989 | (c) 432-6212