Two federal lawmakers recently have renewed efforts to pass a bill that would look at ways to prevent illegal school bus passing incidents nationwide.
U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) reintroduced on March 17 the Stop for School Buses Act (STOP Act) (H.R. 1994), which would require a comprehensive review of laws, practices, and technologies aimed at preventing the illegal passing of stopped school buses, according to a news release from Walorski’s office.
As School Bus Fleet previously reported, the Representatives initially introduced the bill, H.R. 2218, in April 2019, following the tragic Rochester, Indiana, crash that killed three students and severely injured one other when they were struck by a vehicle passing a school bus with its stop arm extended.
The bill directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to conduct a comprehensive review of existing laws and programs in all 50 states, recommend best practices, and create a nationwide public safety campaign.
Under the bill, the U.S. DOT would:
• Compile illegal passing laws in all states, including levels of enforcement and penalties.
• Review existing public safety measures and programs to prevent illegal passing of school buses.
• Issue recommendations on best practices for preventing illegal passing.
• Evaluate the effectiveness of various technologies that may help prevent illegal passing incidents.
• Review driver education materials in all states to determine whether more information about illegal passing should be provided to drivers.
• Research connections between illegal passing of school buses and other safety issues.
• Create and execute a public safety messaging campaign to promote safe driving when children are present and highlight the dangers of illegal passing.
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) stated in a news release on Wednesday that it applauds reintroduction of the bill and added that last session, the House STOP Act was included as part of the House of Representatives-passed infrastructure bill in June 2020. It received bi-partisan support in the 116th Congress, collecting 64 co-sponsors for H.R.2218, while the companion Senate proposal (S.1254) collected 13 co-sponsors, according to the NSTA.
“NSTA remains hopeful the STOP Act will be included in surface transportation reauthorization/infrastructure bill this year and be enacted into law,” the association stated in the news release.
Additionally, in a letter to members of Congress last week, NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn outlined the details of the comprehensive federal program for preventing illegal passing of school buses that the legislation would provide if passed into law.
“Increasingly, schoolchildren are placed in harm’s way by external factors outside of the school bus. In particular, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of motorists who are illegally passing stopped school buses with lights flashing and stop arms deployed," said John Benish Jr., NSTA's president. "This alarming trend has been verified through various industry surveys, and it requires a comprehensive solution that the STOP Act provides. NSTA looks forward to garnering widespread support for this legislation,”