A new House bill calls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to establish demonstration projects nationwide to monitor and collect data on school bus illegal passing incidents.
Reps. Rudy Yakym of Indiana and Julia Brownley of California introduced a draft of the bipartisan Jackie Walorski Enhancing Necessary Data on Illegal School Bus Passing Act, or the END Act, on May 26 in honor of the late Indiana congresswoman who was killed last summer in an automobile crash. At this writing, the legislation had yet to be officially filed.
Yakym was sworn in to replace Walorski in the House in November, and Brownley worked with Walorski to get the STOP for School Buses Act passed as a provision of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Joe Biden two years ago. Now Public Law 117-58, STOP for School Buses Act directs NHTSA to review existing school bus illegal passing law nationwide and evaluate technology and other safety measures to keep students safe as they board and exit their school buses as well as cross the street to and from.
The National School Transportation Association on Tuesday said the END Act builds on NHTSA work in illegal passing that is mandated by Public Law 117-58.
“Though the STOP Act was a great start, the illegal passing epidemic continues to grow around the country,” NSTA wrote in a statement. “According to a study conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation an estimated 41.8 million illegal passing violations are occurring per 180-day school year. The Jackie Walorski Enhancing Necessary Date Illegal Passing Act will continue the mission started by the late Jackie Walorski to end illegal passing in America.”
If passed, the END Act would direct NHTSA to provide grant funds for the demonstration projects to collect the number of illegal passing incidents that occur each day, traffic patterns and characteristics, information on the motorists who illegally pass, and the role distracted driving plays in the moving violations.
NHTSA would be required to submit a final report detailing the program findings to Congress. NHTSA would then create a national public service announcement to increase awareness of and educate motorists about the dangers of illegally passing school buses.
The END Act would also require NHTSA, in consultation with the National Conference of State Legislatures, to draft model legislation states could use to address illegal passing. NHTSA would also modify educational materials created for traffic safety resource prosecutors and state agencies to emphasize stronger enforcement of laws prohibiting illegal passing.
The next scheduled edition of NHTSA’s biennial highway safety countermeasure guide that is provided to state highway safety offices would include information about pupil transportation safety and effective countermeasures to address school bus illegal passing.
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