MADISON, Wis. — A bill recently introduced in the state Legislature would allow school bus drivers to pull off a highway onto the right-hand shoulder to load and unload students as long as they activate the bus’ flashing red lights.
This type of stop would only be allowed if weather and shoulder conditions enable it to be done “with reasonable safety,” the bill specifies.
Rep. Louise Molepske Jr., one of the legislators who introduced the bill, told Kenosha News that the changes are “designed to give bus drivers the tools they need to make good decisions regarding safety.”
Moreover, the legislation — which is referred to as David’s Law in memory of David Senft, a teenager who died in a school bus accident in 2006 — would prohibit an individual from operating a school bus if students are seated in the last two rows of the bus, unless all other seats are occupied. (Senft was seated in one of the last two rows of the bus at the time of his accident.)
The bill initally provided penalties for violating this prohibition, including receiving a fine of between $20 and $40 for the first offense and between $50 and $100 for a subsequent offense, but the bill has since been amended and there is currently no penalty.
Kenosha News reported that during a public hearing on the bill in May, some lawmakers questioned whether the bill would create or increase liability for bus drivers, bus companies and school districts. One representative also questioned if pulling a bus off the highway could create other problems.
“It makes me a little nervous,” Rep. Alvin Ott told Kenosha News. “It invites the public to pass on the left.”