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Bus safety law raises fines

Kadyn’s Law increases punishments

September 13, 2012
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, , Messenger News

Illegally passing a stopped school bus now comes with even greater punishments.

The Iowa Department of Transportation adopted an emergency administrative rule on Aug. 14 that increased criminal penalties for the violation.

Kadyn's Law, which took effect Aug. 15, is named for Kadyn Halverson, a 7-year-old student in Northwood. On May 10, 2011, while trying to cross the road to board a school bus, Halverson was struck and killed by a pickup truck driven by Aaron Gunderson. Gunderson was convicted in January of vehicular homicide-reckless driving and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Kadyn's law, also an acronym meaning Keep Aware Driving - Youth Need School Safety Act, was passed unanimously in the Iowa House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Terry Branstad.

Kim Snook, IDOT director of the office of driver services, supports the law, saying it will increase student safety.

"Kadyn's Law has been very important to us," Snook said. "Any time you put young children that are going to school at risk I think that is something we have to be serious about, with the sanctions and penalties for the people that put them at risk. It is that serious, enough that it does now have more serious penalties. It has made more people aware in the state. Safety is the utmost essential to have."

Fact Box

Kadyn's Law

First offense, minimum fine of $250, including surcharge and court costs. Driving privileges suspended 30 days.

Second offense, $315 fine with 90-day suspension.

Third offense, $315 fine with 180-day suspension.

Fines are greater for an offense causing injury or death to another person.

She added, "We back this law completely."

A first offense comes with a minimum fine of $250, including surcharge and court costs, and driving privileges suspended 30 days. A second offense is a $315 fine with an imposed 90-day suspension. The third offense, is also a $315 fine with a 180-day suspension. Fines are greater for an offense causing injury or death to another person.

The Fort Dodge Community School District transports 2,500 students a day over 27 routes. Drivers must stop 15 feet away from a stopped bus whenever its red lights are flashing and slow to 20 miles per hour when its amber lights are flashing.

According to Tammy Oester, FDCSD transportation site manager, incidents have fortunately not been severe in Fort Dodge.

"We have had one stop-arm violation this year so far. To my knowledge, we have never had an injury or anything with somebody crossing and getting hit by a vehicle," she said. "We have had the stop-arm violations, a lot of them, but none where a person was injured."

When a vehicle does pass illegally, bus drivers immediately take the vehicle's license plate number, often with help from students on the bus, Oester said. They record any other helpful vehicle information as well. Bus drivers, otherwise, are always alert for traffic.

"(The students) walk up to the corner of the bus and (the driver) will wait until all the vehicles that are coming are stopping, then they'll motion for the kids to come across," she said.

Oester has witnessed violations herself as a former bus driver.

"I had one actually pass me on the right-hand side, where a child was getting out the door. And I'll never forget that one," she said. "The kids started saying, 'Get the license plate. Get the license plate.' My instinct was to look on the left. He got on the shoulder. Luckily, the door didn't get all the way open so the kid wasn't off the bus. That really was an eye-opener. You never know what they're going to do."

It is very important for drivers to know the rules and the penalties faced if they're broken, Oester said.

"They don't realize there's that law out there," she said. "A lot of the public doesn't really understand when they come up to a bus with the lights on what it actually means."



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