Daily Court Reporter - News Bill goes after reckless drivers flouting school bus-stop law
Bill goes after reckless drivers flouting school bus-stop law
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
A pair of central Ohio lawmakers are hopeful their peers will consider a measure ultimately intended to improve the safety of students while boarding and exiting the school bus.
The two members of the Ohio House of Representatives expect to meet that end by enhancing the penalty for a motorist's failure to stop for a school bus that is picking up or dropping off school children when the offender has a prior violation within a five-year period.
Each year, 17,000 students are involved in school bus-related injuries, according to joint sponsor of the bill Democrat Rep. Richard Brown of Canal Winchester.
And of those, he added, 24 percent happen while students are getting on or off the bus.
Brown reported that Reynoldsburg schools, specifically, have seen an uptick of incidents involving reckless drivers and stopped school busses.
Filed as House Bill 646, the bill has been referred to the Criminal Justice Committee and awaits a hearing at the conclusion of lawmakers' summer break.
"Our children are our future and their safety should be our top priority," Brown said. "Unfortunately, getting on and off the school bus in Ohio can still be dangerous.
"By putting tougher standards in place, I am hopeful we can bring greater awareness to safe driving practices that keep our kids out of harm's way."
Under current law, reckless drivers currently face a $500 fine and a Class 7 suspension for passing a stopped school bus.
Unchanged, the text of the law follows:
"The driver of a vehicle, streetcar or trackless trolley upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school child, person attending programs offered by community boards of mental health and county boards of developmental disabilities or child attending a program offered by a head start agency, shall stop at least ten feet from the front or rear of the school bus and shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by the school bus driver to proceed."
The current law further stipulates that offending motorists may not argue a defense that the school bus involved failed to display or be equipped with an automatically extended stop warning sign as required by law.
Brown noted that there is no increased penalty for a second offense.
HB 646 would allow judges to impose a $1,000 fine, and/or a Class 5 suspension of the violator's license for any additional offense during five years.
Brown said the enhancement would align state law with those of other midwestern states.
"This common sense bill would act as an effective deterrent to offenders," fellow joint sponsor Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, said. "Violating this law once is bad enough, but two or more times warrants higher penalties."
Eight fellow House members have signed on as cosponsors of the bill.
Date Published: September 20, 2018