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In this blog we look at news that came out of America concerning a re-introduction of a bill to make it illegal for motorists to pass school buses illegally.
In November 2018 three students were killed when a motorist illegally ran a stop arm. This raised the topic once more for tougher penalties for such actions, and for a bill to be re-introduced to curb any further infringements.
Unsafe Passing Bill
Senator Eric Bassler plans to propose the bill a second time in January 2019 that would effectively elevate the penalty for illegally passing a school bus. The bill asks that the infringement would no longer be just a traffic ticket and would become a misdemeanor charge and motorists could face jail time.
The bill would also give freedom to allow school bus drivers, crossing guards and monitors the ability to swear an affidavit if they are a witness to a motorist running a stop arm. Presently a law officer has to witness any such violation for action to be taken.
Senator Bassler had first introduced the bill in 2016, the bill stated in SB 326 that any motorist who was found guilty of violating a Stop Arm would be cited with a Class B misdemeanor, and could be fined up to a thousand dollars.
If the motorist was found guilty of illegally passing a school bus with its Stop Arm extended that leads to bodily injury to a person, this would then be classed as a Class A misdemeanor and would carry a penalty of five thousand dollars.
The 2016 bill was not passed, but Senator Bassler hopes that it will have more success when re-introduced in 2019.
Senator Bassler’s concerted efforts come on the back of an incident in Rochester. A motorist was alleged to have violated a Stop Arm and went on to strike four students. The horrific incident caused three deaths and a serious injury to the fourth student.
There has also been a petition that has been submitted to the White House that calls for legislation to make it illegal to pass a school bus that is stationary. Make bus stop safety a federal law, has been picking up momentum and calls for higher penalties such as jail, three months suspension of license, a twelve point penalty fine, and a minimum cash fine of five thousand dollars for first offenders.
Whether the re-introduction of the bill is assisted by the petition remains to be seen, but the safety of students in transit is a subject that will not go away for the President and his administration.