Head files school bus safety legislation

STATEHOUSE – State Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) today announced during a press conference that he filed legislation that would address school bus safety issues in Indiana.

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; and 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.

The legislation would also require the court to suspend driving privileges for first-time offenders for 90 days and one year for repeat offenders.

“Our community has suffered great tragedy recently, as four children lost their lives in accidents involving school buses,” Head said. “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.”

Reps. Jack Jordan (R-Bremen) and Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie), who also attended the press conference, echoed Head’s remarks.

“The tragedy our community recently endured is absolutely heartbreaking,” Jordan said. “It is unimaginable what these families experienced. As we continue to grieve and remember these young children, we are looking at ways to increase school bus safety and prevent this from happening to other Hoosier families.”

“Tragedies like this should never happen,” Pressel said. “As lawmakers, it’s important we work together to increase safety measures for kids going to school. Sen. Head and I have worked on legislation to help increase school bus safety, and I am going to push as hard as I can to see this legislation through to help protect our Hoosier children.”

Head’s legislation 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, 2019, and annually thereafter.

Additionally, under the bill, a school bus driver traveling on a U.S. or state route would not be allowed to load or unload students at a location that requires them to cross a roadway unless no other alternative is available, and if traveling on a street or highway, a school bus driver would be required to load or unload students as close to the right-hand curb as practical.

State Sens. Eric Bassler (R-Washington), Blake Doriot (R-Syracuse), Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), Erin Houchin (R-Salem), Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) and R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis) also attended the press conference.

Head’s legislation will now be assigned to a Senate committee.

SOURCE: News release from the Office of State Senator Randy Head