This fall has been a deadly one for children trying to get to schools. In a recent one-week period, five children were killed and six were injured in five separate incidents, and a new online petition is asking for harsher punishments for drivers who break their state’s bus safety laws.
The petition on whitehouse.gov calls on Congress and President Trump to pass and sign legislation setting “severe penalties” for those who violate school bus safety laws. Every state has a law on school bus safety, and many call for harsher penalties if a collision is involved. But there’s no federal standard that sets forth penalties for drivers who violate the law.
Learn about your state’s law here.
“Children are being injured or killed due to people running the alternating reds on school buses,” the petition says. “Individual laws are largely ineffective and typically have no significant penalty.”
Petition organizers propose such penalties for a first offense as 30 days in jail, a 90-day driver license suspension, loss of 12 points on their licenses in states where that might be applicable and a mandatory minimum fine of $5,000.
“This is the least we the American voters will accept,” the petition said.
Tell Us: Do you think the school bus safety law in your state is tough enough? If you could rewrite it, what penalties would you include?
Three siblings were killed and another child was hurt in an Oct. 30 crash in Rochester, Indiana, while they were waiting for their school bus. A 24-year-old woman was arrested and charged with reckless homicide. Indiana State Police said the stop arm on the bus was extended and exterior lights were flashing at the stop, and the children were hit as they crossed the road to board the bus.
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A day later, a 9-year-old boy in Mississippi was killed in the Tupelo, Mississippi, suburb of Pratts while crossing a highway to catch the school bus. The driver accused of striking the child was arrested and charged with one count of aggravated assault.
On the same day, a kindergarten student in Tallahassee, Florida, was injured when he was struck by a car while crossing the street to board his school bus. The bus had extended the crossing arm, and the driver of the vehicle told police he realized too late that the bus had stopped,
On Nov. 1, five children were injured while waiting for the bus in Tampa, Florida. Two adults were also hurt when a vehicle heading eastbound hit the group. Witnesses said the driver of the vehicle had been speeding before the crash.
Also that day, a second-grade student was killed at a bus stop in a hit-and-run accident Tyrone, Pennsylvania. The boy was already dead when the bus driver pulled up to the stop and called 911, the Tyrone Area School District superintendent said in a statement of the hit-and-run accident.
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