Gov. Riley signs new school bus safety law
Published 12:30 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006
By By Kerry Whipple-Bean
Escambia County has been lucky not to have any accidents involving children leaving or getting on a school bus.
Still, Billy Hines, the county schools' assistant superintendent in charge of transportation, said he is glad to know Gov. Bob Riley will be signing a law today to stiffen penalties for drivers who pass a stopped school or church bus on any road.
"That's probably the most abused area in school bus safety," said Hines, who said bus drivers are trained to look out for motorists who do not stop.
Under the bill, the penalties for multiple convictions include community service, fines and suspension of driver licenses.
Hines said he hopes the tougher law will also make drivers more aware of school bus safety.
"When stop signs are out, that's when children are crossing," he said.
Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne, sponsor of the bill, has been working to get it passed for two years. Last year the bill was passed by the House but stalled in the Senate because of other procedural matters.
The bill forbids drivers from passing a school or church bus stopped on any road, although it exempts drivers on four-lane divided highways as long as the driver is on the opposite side of the road.
The bill also sets up a penalty structure for those in violation of the law. The first conviction would garner a fine of $150 to $300.
The second conviction could lead to a find of $300 to $500, 100 hours of community services and suspension of your driver's license for 30 days.
The third conviction includes a fine of $500 to $1,000 and adds another 100 hours of community service and suspension of the driver's license for 90 days.
The fourth conviction would yield a fine of $1,000 to $3,000, community services, and suspension of driver's license for a year.