Safer students thanks to tougher school bus laws
Last year, 7-year-old Kaydn Halverson of Kensett was killed by a driver illegally passing a stopped school bus. The sort of criminally reckless driving that caused Kaydn’s death is on the rise.
According to the Second Annual School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey, there has been a significant increase in drivers blowing past stopped school buses. The number of vehicles illegally passing a school bus during a nationwide, one-day count earlier this year was 43.7 percent, as compared to 38.2 percent in 2011.
But school bus trips will now be safer for Iowa children thanks to Kaydn’s Law, legislation passed in 2012 in response to Kaydn’s death and at the urging of her family and friends. Under Iowa law, drivers approaching a school bus from either direction must slow down to no more than 20 mph when the bus is flashing its amber warning lights, and come to a complete stop when a school bus stop arm is extended. Drivers must remain stopped until the school bus driver retracts the stop arm and turns off the red flashing lights.
Kaydn’s Law increases the criminal penalties for illegally passing a school bus and makes it a serious moving violation resulting in license suspension. A person’s Iowa driving privilege will be suspended 30 days for a first conviction, 90 days for a second conviction, and 180 days for a third or subsequent conviction.
The penalties for failing to slow for a school bus with flashing lights or to stop when the stop arm is extended were increased to as much as a $675 fine and up to 30 days in jail for a first offense. A second offense would carry a much higher fine and a possible prison sentence. Causing serious injury brings a maximum fine of $500 and license suspension of up to 90 days. Causing a death doubles the penalties.
The new law also requires the state to consider additional steps to improve school bus safety, including using cameras mounted on schools buses and highlighting school bus safety in driver’s education classes. The Legislature will consider those findings during the 2013 session.Posted Aug. 19th, 2012 at 8:11 am by Senate Staff