INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers on Monday advanced a school bus safety bill after cutting a provision to let schools buy stop-arm cameras with a share of the fines from illegal passers, and changed a provision that would have made a license suspension mandatory.
The state House of Representatives made revisions to Senate Bill 2, which addresses several school bus safety issues, including to two provisions. One amendment would no longer allow school corporations to use a share of fines collected from stop-arm runners to pay for the cameras. The amendment also changes a requirement for an automatic 90-day driver’s license suspension for violators to allowing a judge to make that decision.
Lawmakers were prompted to make the stop-arm camera amendment due to concerns about third-party agreements, according to The Times. State Rep. Ethan Manning, who submitted the amendment, told the news source that representatives had concerns about third-party agreements for the purchase of stop-arm cameras, and that schools are already allowed to install them.
Rep. Ed Delaney said that “school bus safety now will depend on whether individual school districts are willing or can afford to allocate the money necessary to install cameras on their buses,” the news source reports.
In addition to increasing penalties on stop-arm runners, the bill establishes requirements for stopping, loading and unloading, crossing, and reviewing and sharing safety practices.
If the bill passes, those requirements would include:
• School bus drivers deploying flashing warning lights and a stop arm when loading and unloading students.
• Schools reviewing bus routes and safety policies.
• The state Department of Education posting on its website school bus safety guidelines and how to petition to reduce maximum speed limits in areas where students are boarding or exiting school buses.
• With some exceptions, prohibiting bus drivers from loading or unloading students at a location where they would need to cross a roadway, unless there are no other safe alternatives.
The bill with the amendments passed the House unanimously on Monday and had passed the Senate on Feb. 18. It now goes back to the Senate for review of the amendments, and if approved, will move to Gov. Holcomb’s office for signature, according to the Indiana House of Representatives Republican Caucus. If the Senate doesn’t approve the amendments, the bill will be moved to a conference committee to reconcile differences.
Senate Bill 2 was prompted by the Oct. 30 stop-arm running incident that killed three students and injured one other.