The Indiana Senate and House of Representatives approved a bill authored by State Sen. Randy Head that aims to eliminate student crossing of highways to and from their school buses. It also allows using stop-arm video cameras to capture motorists who illegally pass.
The legislation now goes to the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is expected to sign it into law.
Senate Enrolled Act 2, which was approved on Tuesday, is also known as the MAX Strong Act. Head filed it in remembrance of Mason Ingle, Alivia Stahl, and Xzavier Ingle, who were struck and killed by an oncoming motorist as the siblings crossed a rural state road to their waiting school bus.
“Three children in Fulton County lost their lives last year in an accident involving a school bus, and our entire community has felt the effects,” Head said. “I brought SEA 2 forward this session, to help ensure no other family has to endure this kind of loss. I am hopeful this legislation encourages all drivers to slow down and keep the safety of our children in mind when driving.”
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If signed by Gov. Holcomb, the legislation would require all schools that provide student transportation, including charter schools and accredited nonpublic schools, to review each school bus route and school bus safety policies by Sept. 1, 2019, and each Sept. 1 thereafter.
It would require schools to eliminate bus stops that make children cross highways in high-speed areas unless no other safe options are available. School board approval would be required to approve any school bus route that requires a student be loaded onto or unloaded from the school bus along a U.S. or state route.
Schools would also be authorized to purchase, install and operate stop-arm cameras.
Other highlights of the bill include:
- Increase the penalties for drivers who violate school bus stop laws, including making a violation that results in death a Level 5 felony.
- Increase public awareness about Indiana’s school bus laws, including the addition of school bus safety topics to learner’s permit and driver’s license tests.
- Reduce speed limits around school bus stops.