Stronger Penalties Proposed in Indiana School Bus Safety Legislation

State Sen. Randy Head filed legislation today that would boost penalties for drivers who violate school bus arm laws in Indiana.

New legislation introduced in the Indiana State Senate would increase the penalties for drivers who recklessly violate school bus arm laws. It would also require the court to suspend driving privileges for first-time offenders for 90 days, and one year for repeat offenders.

State Sen. Randy Head today announced on Tuesday that he filed new legislation, which was assigned to a Senate committee, his staff reported.

The bill would increase the penalty:

  • From a Class A infraction to a Class C misdemeanor for a driver who fails to stop when a school bus arm is extended.
  • From a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor for a driver who recklessly passes a school bus when its arm is extended.
  • From a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony for a driver who recklessly passes a school bus when its arm is extended and causes injury.

“Our community has suffered great tragedy recently, as four children lost their lives in accidents involving school buses,” explained Head. “No family should ever have to experience a loss of this kind, and I am hopeful this legislation, if passed, would help prevent similar accidents from occurring by encouraging drivers to slow down, follow the rules of the road and keep the safety of our children in mind.”

Safety Checks & Right-Hand Curbs

The proposed law would also require each school corporation, charter school or accredited nonpublic school that provides student transportation to review their school bus routes and safety policies by Sept. 1 of this year, and annually thereafter.

The bill also says a school bus driver who is driving on a U.S. or state route would not be allowed to load or unload students at a location that requires the children to cross a road, unless no other alternative is available. In addition, school bus drivers would be required to load or unload students as close to the right-hand curb as practical.

Canadian Province Gets Tough

Meanwhile, last month in Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) province, drivers who do not stop for a school bus will lose their license for three months and could also be fined up to $5,000, according to NBC4i in Columbus, Ohio. The law went effect on Dec. 8.

In PEI, in order to get their licenses back, drivers will also have to:

  • Meet with highway safety officials.
  • Pay a $100 reinstatement fee.
  • Take a defensive driving course within six months of having their license reinstated.
  • Drivers will then be placed on probation, but any additional traffic points will cause their license to again be suspended.