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Bill Would Make School Bus Safety Act Penalties Tougher

5:56 AM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC - Some state lawmakers are hoping tougher penalties will deter drivers from passing stopped school buses.

We've had to report devastating news too many times - young kids, trying to get on the school bus, when they're hit by a car and killed.

Legislators, including Rep. Ed Haynes from Forsyth County, have proposed changes to the School Bus Safety Act.

A lot of students board buses early in the morning, when drivers might not be able to see them. However, no driver should miss the flashing lights of a stopped school bus.

Here's what lawmakers are proposing the penalties are if you do:

If a driver is caught trying to pass a school bus that has its red flashing lights on, the minimum fine would be $500.

If a driver hits someone while passing a stopped school bus, the driver would be charged with a felony and have to pay a minimum of $2,500 fine.

If a driver hit and killed someone while passing a stopped school bus, they would also be charged with a felony and have to pay a minimum of $5,000 fine.

Additionally, if the proposed changes to the School Bus Safety Act pass, the driver's license would automatically be revoked if they hit someone or killed someone while trying to pass a school bus.

If someone is convicted of passing a school bus twice, which would be a misdemeanor, their license would also be revoked.

Jeff Harris, Transportation Director for Guilford County Schools, said he believes tougher penalties would be a deterrent for drivers. However, he also believes there needs to be more education for drivers and students.

Harris said Guilford County Schools is working with the NC Department of Public Instruction on a pilot program for more school bus safety education.

The House Transportation Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill on Tuesday.

WFMY News 2

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