State Senator Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, today introduced the “School Bus Safety Act,” legislation that will bring more awareness to school bus safety issues and increase penalties for people who violate laws designed to protect students while going to and from school.
Last year, then State Senator Randy Gardner, who is now state chancellor for higher education, held a forum with local bus drivers and school officials to listen to their concerns.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that between 2015 and 2017 there were 4,306 accidents involving a school bus and 4,198 drivers cited for failing to stop for a school bus that was loading or unloading children. School administrators, law enforcement and parents believe that impatience, more than ignorance of current laws regarding improperly passing a school bus, is to blame.
Under the bill, the fine for improperly passing a school bus will double. For repeat offenders, the fine will increase $250 and include a rise in level of driver’s license suspension for each violation. The legislation will also enhance the penalty for vehicular homicide or vehicular assault if the offender hits or kills a student as a result of improperly passing a school bus.
“Recent accidents involving children from schools in my district has made school bus safety an even bigger focus of mine,” Gavarone said. “This bill is going to bring more awareness to the issue and increase penalties for people who blatantly disregard laws that have been proven to protect our children.”
The legislation also creates a pilot program that will allow districts across the state to apply for school bus cameras and designates August as “School Bus Safety Awareness Month.”
Senate Bill 134 will be referred to a Senate committee for further consideration.