NSTA members returned to Washington, D.C., in March 2024 for the latest Capitol Hill Bus-In, advocating for the Walorski Enhancing Necessary Data (END) Illegal School Bus Passings Act. - Source: NSTA

NSTA members returned to Washington, D.C., in March 2024 for the latest Capitol Hill Bus-In, advocating for the Walorski Enhancing Necessary Data (END) Illegal School Bus Passings Act.

Source: NSTA

The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) reconvened in the nation's capital earlier this month for the 2024 NSTA Capitol Hill Bus-ln, advocating for enhanced safety measures to combat the persistent issue of illegal school bus passing across the country.

In July 2023, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) released the results of its annual survey to gauge the severity of illegal passing of stopped school buses. The survey found that 62,482 vehicles passed stopped school buses with their extended stop arm and flashing red lights blinking in 33 states. The survey had participation from 94,581 school bus drivers.

Projected across a 180-day school year, NASDPTS officials estimated about 43.5 million incidents of motorists illegally passing school buses - an increase of more than 4% compared to the previous year.

It's a problem that can make the school bus ride - normally the safest way for children to travel to and from school - more dangerous for bus passengers as they try to board or disembark the school bus.

Advocating for Legislative Support to Battle Illegal School Bus Passing

Taking place from March 6-7, the program brought NSTA members to Capitol Hill, where they engaged in a series of meetings with congressional representatives to address the nationwide epidemic of illegal school bus passing.

At the forefront of their advocacy efforts was a push for support of HR 3998, the Jackie Walorski Enhancing Necessary Data (END) Illegal School Bus Passings Act. This legislation, introduced by Congressman Rudy Yakym (IN-2) and Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26), aims to honor the late Congresswoman Jackie Walorski by tackling the growing issue of illegal school bus passings.

Walorski, an Indiana representative, died in a head-on collision in 2022, along with Zachary Potts, 27, and Emma Thomson, 28.

Once, speaking about the need for protecting students from illegal passing of school buses, Walorski said: "Every driver has a responsibility to exercise caution when students are present, and that includes never passing a school bus that has stopped with red lights flashing or its stop arm extended."

Throughout the two-day program in the nation's capital, NSTA members participated in nearly 85 separate meetings with congressional offices, emphasizing the importance of student safety so they could raise awareness about the dangers posed by illegal passing of a stopped school bus.

Capitol Hill Stakeholders Hear About Protecting School Buses

The initiative commenced with a welcome reception luncheon sponsored by IC Bus at the Kimpton George Hotel on March 6. NSTA members then embarked on their advocacy efforts, engaging with U.S. Senate and House offices, and concluded the day with an evening reception celebrating their endeavors.

On March 7, the advocacy continued with a breakfast meeting sponsored by Thomas Built Buses, where NSTA members reviewed the previous day's meetings before heading back to Capitol Hill for a second day of advocacy efforts, primarily focusing on engaging with House members to raise awareness.

The day concluded with a reception and dinner sponsored by BYD-RIDE, where NSTA members were greeted by Rep. Rudy Yakym, the prime sponsor of the END Act.

Reflecting on the event, NSTA President Dan Kobussen expressed satisfaction with the outcome, stating: "The 2024 NSTA Capitol Hill Bus-ln was a successful endeavor, as NSTA membership continued to build our relationships with our Congressional representatives."

NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn reiterated the importance of addressing illegal school bus passing: "Illegal school bus passings are increasing according to recent data we have seen, and our organization will remain vigilant in pursuing solutions to this vexing problem."

About the author
Wes Platt

Wes Platt

Former Executive Editor

Wes Platt is the former executive editor of School Bus Fleet magazine.

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