STATEHOUSE (March 15, 2019) —The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee voted in support of legislation co-sponsored by State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) that would strengthen the penalties for individuals who fail to stop when a school bus stop arm is extended.
When school buses stop to pick up or drop off children, their stop arms extend and lights flash to signal other drivers to stop as students get on or off the bus. Pressel said most drivers follow traffic laws regarding school bus stop arms, but some are either unaware of current law or disregard it.
“Unfortunately, the thousands of stop-arm violations that are reported each day prove that more needs to be done to protect our kids getting on and off the school bus,” Pressel said. “Hoosier motorists have a responsibility to follow school bus traffic laws, and this legislation is one small step forward in the effort to keep our children safe.”
Currently, the penalty for an individual who fails to stop when a school bus stop arm is extended is a Class A infraction. Under this legislation, that penalty would be raised to a Class C misdemeanor. Similarly, if the action results in injury or death, the penalty would be raised from a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony or a Level 5 felony, respectively.
Last year, an accident in Fulton County claimed the lives of three children who were struck by an oncoming car as they crossed the road to board their school bus.
Pressel said the legislation would also improve safety by ensuring school corporations review scheduled bus routes each year, and avoid making students cross state highways to board or get off a school bus.
State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) represents House District 20,
which includes portions of LaPorte and Starke counties.
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