Despite a new law and stiffer penalties, some motorists are still failing to stop for school busses that are dropping off or picking up children. Ted Larson, director of transportation for the Webster City Community Schools, says they’ve counted six incidents of vehicles passing stopped busses since the start of the year in his district alone.
“I hate to say it, but when you see it happen, people are usually on a cell phone, looking down and texting or just not paying attention to what’s going on in front of them,” Larson said. Iowa law makes it illegal to pass in either direction when a school bus has its stop signal arm extended.
Larson instructs his drivers to do their best to avoid putting kids in harm’s way. “The first priority for our students to understand is they don’t cross the street to board the bus, if they have to, until the bus driver gives them the signal to cross the street,” Larson said. “Most of the time, 99-percent of the time, we direct our routes so they don’t have to cross the road.”
A measure approved by the legislature and governor last year known as “Kadyn’s Law”, raised penalties for motorists who are caught passing a stopped school bus. “It’s a 600 dollar fine and 30 days loss of license if you go through a stop arm,” Larson said.
A second conviction results in heftier fines and a 90 day driver’s license suspension. The law was named after seven-year-old Kadyn Halverson of Kensett who was killed on May 10 of 2011 as she attempted to get on a school bus. This week is designated as National School Bus Safety Week.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City