This year’s North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s Operation Drive to Live campaign comes on the heels of a roadway tragedy for Onslow County.
David Palacio, a 16-year-old Dixon High School student, died Monday after being run over as he was walking across Dawson Cabin Road to get on the school bus, which was stopped and had its appropriate stop signals activated at the time.
The Operation Drive to Live campaign will put troopers out in force as they watch for violations, like passing a stopped school bus, that could injure the students, said First Sgt. David Oglesby with the Highway Patrol.
Passing a stopped school bus causing death is one of two charges against Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joshua Block, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in David’s death.
The Drive to Live campaign is centered around schools, Oglesby said, including speed zones, the school buildings and their buses.
The campaign is scheduled for this Monday through Friday in anticipation of spring break and the beginning of prom season, according to a press release from the N.C. Highway Patrol.
“It’s done in the effort to reduce fatal crashes with 16-to-19-year-olds,” Oglesby said.
Teens ages 16 and 17 are over-represented in fatal crashes, according to the release, and young and inexperienced drivers are the most at risk for distracted driving.
While troopers in Onslow County will focus on keeping those young drivers safe, Oglesby said they’ll also have a bigger police presence on back roads and areas they get the most complaints from bus drivers for vehicles passing them while they’re stopped.
Troopers will be set up inside buses to watch for violations, he said, while another trooper will be driving behind the bus or set up nearby. The trooper on the bus will call in the violations and the mobile trooper will head out to find the alleged violator.
Operation Drive to Live runs from Monday to Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. this week.