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March 21, 2012  |   Comments (7)   |   Post a comment

Bill calls for stricter bus-passing penalties nationwide


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Legislation has been introduced at the federal level that would require Iowa’s new stricter penalties for motorists who pass stopped school buses to apply to all states in the country.

As SBF reported earlier this week, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed “Kadyn’s Law,” under which bus-passing violators face a fine of up to $675 and up to 30 days in jail for a first offense. For a second offense within five years, the fine would be up to $1,875 with up to one year of jail time.

Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa introduced the federal version of the bill on Wednesday.

The legislation would require states to strengthen their penalties for motorists who pass school buses with their red lights flashing and stop arm extended to the new Iowa standard at a minimum, or face losing 10 percent of federal highway funding each year.

“When reckless drivers ignore warnings and pass stopped school buses, children’s lives are put in danger,” Braley said. “Toughening penalties for drivers who violate school bus safety laws will save lives and convince more people to drive responsibly around kids and schools. It’s a common-sense change that rises above petty partisan politics.”

Braley went on to say that thanks to Kadyn Halverson, Iowa has become a national leader in school bus safety. (Halverson was struck and killed by a pickup truck last year as she was walking across a road to board her school bus. The law was named after her.)

“It’s time every state adopt these strict standards so the penalty matches the severity of this crime,” he added.

Kadyn’s Law was championed in Iowa by Kadyn’s mother, Kari Halverson, her family, and Kim Koenigs, a local advocate.

“The fact that Kadyn's Law is being introduced at a federal level today is beyond amazing to us,” Halverson said. “As a mother who has lost a child by someone illegally passing by a stopped school bus, I can only hope and pray our leaders at the national level will embrace this act for our children all over the country. I applaud Congressman Bruce Braley for stepping up and taking on an issue that is extremely near and dear to my heart, as well as others who have lost children in this way."

To read the proposed federal bill in full, go here.

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Read more about: stop arm running/illegal passing

We in Montana have the same problems with people running School Bus Red lights. I have had the same thing happening with cars passing me on the left and right with my red lights out as well as coming toward me. In Montana they are allowed to proceed through an intersection from your left and right but cannot pass you from behind or come straight by you. I feel that the whole intersection should be stopped.

rita bolton    |    Apr 11, 2012 12:54 PM

I believe the penalities passed for Iowa are an EXCELLENT start. However, there are many factors which need to be addressed. In New York, a vast majority of "traffic violations" are reduced to "non-moving" offenses and fined as "parking" tickets to keep the funds in the local jurisdiction. This has resulted in drivers being 'excused' from the penalities that could result in correction of the violations, examples: a driver with 15 speeding tickets had all of them over a period of time reduced and he continued the actions until a wedding group walking down the street were all killed as he sped by; a different driver speeding (10th or 11th time verified by court records) doing 85+ MPH in a 45 speed zone runs a stop sign and broadsides a van. The four teenagers in the car are instantly killed and the retired couple in the van are critically injured. SUGGESTION: IF... 1. The law enforcement agencies would write the tickets for the actual violation committed, AND 2. The judges would impose the fines/punishment as listed in the laws (maximum if repeat offenders), AND driving PRIVILEDGES removed temporarily or permanently, AND the state(s) sharing in the fines imposed with the local juristictions, THEN MAYBE, most or at least some of these violations will decrease or hopefully stop. There are many, many laws already in the books in all the states that only need to be ENFORCED to correct the actions and prevent future happenings. Too many individuals leave the courtrooms laughing at the system because they "just got over" on it!!!!

Fritz Lohrey    |    Mar 23, 2012 03:50 PM

The penalty is not the Issue! In Pennsylvania, the legal system seems to think our fees are too high already. Thus the law dictates to use too not only have the License number, but a description of the vehicle, occupants, date, time, weather, and so on. And the only person that can provide the information is the bus driver that had their bus passed illegally. How is a bus driver supposed to be able to drive a school bus supervise the bus load of students and have all the eyes in their head that they would need to do all of that. Then the bus driver has to take the information to law enforcement official and file the complaint and then go to court when the drivers contest the charges. When the offenders find out what the penalty is, they almost always fight the charges. The law doesn’t need higher penalties, the law just needs to be changed to make it easier for charges of illegal bus passing can be reported and prosecuted.

Mark    |    Mar 23, 2012 04:35 AM

To Michael N: we already have several federal laws governing the safety of school buses. I support the stiffer penalties but I more interested in extra jail time after the 1st time violators. People who do it more than once willnot care how much the fine is cause they most likely will never intend on paying it.

Wade c    |    Mar 22, 2012 09:15 PM

It is long over due and appreciated that finally the illegal passing of a school bus while children are loading or unloading will become a federal law. If the states were already enforcing their own school bus passing violations then the federal law would not be needed. The states can always increase the jail times and fines above what would be required by a federal law. So claiming that there is no need for a federal law to build upon in uniforming the law in ALL fifty states makes no sense. Any state can go above and beyond a federal law they just can't go below what is in the federal statute. The goal is to get ALL states the same law in which everyone will know applies in ALL states when it involves illegally passing any school bus and taking a fools chance at killing children. It is a shame that it takes many years of school children being killed before everyone gets on the same page to make improvements in the laws designed to help protect children and gives law enforcement another tool that helps them do so when they witness illegal traffic violations around school buses. Will the federal law save lives? It should. It will still be the motorist who will have to decide if they want to risk a federal offense on their drivers license record just to pass a school bus. I think it will make most think twice about it and that is one of the results I feel this federal law intends to do. I do wish it did not have to take a federal law yet this is the world we all live in. If anyone has a better ideal then I am sure most all of us who have many many years invested in the school transportation of children - we'd like to hear about any better ideals. Dan Luttrell, Bedford, IN.

Dan Luttrell    |    Mar 22, 2012 08:43 PM

Different Michael than the guy who posted before me... Anyway, I totally disagree with this. Leave it to the states to set their own traffic laws. We don't need the federal government involved because it will tie our hands when we need to do something unique. Every state has their own slightly different ways of doing things, and that should be allowed to continue for the sake of innovation. Michigan and a few other states allow for passive stops where traffic is allowed to keep flowing and in some cases that is actually safer than forcing everyone to stop. Things like that would probably get disallowed if it is done at a federal level. Not to mention threatening to remove funding is just another way of the federal government eroding at states' rights. Besides, what does increasing the fines truly do to decrease school bus passers? If there is just as little enforcement as there is now, then the problem will only continue. This bill is just a knee-jerk and puts the federal government where it does not belong.

Michael N    |    Mar 22, 2012 06:08 PM

Good idea but penalty sounds like Federal extortion to me. At least if we tried those tactics in the private sector it would be considered extortion and we would face criminal charges for it. Can anyone say Double Standard?

Michael R    |    Mar 22, 2012 05:35 PM

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