School buses continue to find their way into federal legislation.
Technically, a current resolution in the House and a companion bill in the Senate breathe renewed life into the Stop for School Buses Act of 2019, otherwise known as the STOP Act. The previous attempt was included in the version of the federal infrastructure bill passed last summer by the House but failed to garner enough votes in Senate.
But as the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) pointed out on Wednesday in a statement applauding the resurgence of the bills, there is bipartisan support. Sixty-four co-sponsors last year joined Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana and Democrat Rep. Julia Brownley of California in working on the House resolution, and 13 on the version introduced by Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana and Democrat Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan.
The STOP Act was first introduced in response to Indiana suffering the worst of a slew of illegal passing incidents in October 2018. A motorist failed to stop for a school bus and struck four students as they crossed a rural road. Three of the students were killed, and the fourth suffered several broken bones that required numerous surgeries.
Walorski and Brownley joined Young and Peters in reintroducing their respective bills on March 17.
“NSTA remains hopeful the STOP Act will be included in [the] surface transportation reauthorization/infrastructure bill this year and be enacted into law,” NSTA wrote.
In addition to creating a public safety messaging campaign, the STOP Act would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to review state laws on illegally passing school buses as well as the levels of enforcement. The DOT would also review the various safety technologies and driver education materials already in place to combat illegal passing and issue best practices on the most effective approaches.
“Increasingly, school children are placed in harm’s way by external factors outside of the school bus,” commented NSTA President John Benish. “In particular, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of motorists who are illegally passing stopped school buses with lights flashing and stop arms deployed. This alarming trend has been verified through various industry surveys, and it requires a comprehensive solution that the STOP Act provides.”
Related: Ohio School Bus Safety Act Raises Awareness of Illegal Passing
Related: NHTSA to Conduct School Bus Illegal Passing Surveys
Related: NSTA Annual Capitol Hill Bus-In Advocates for the ‘STOP Act’