(DES MOINES) – During the administration’s weekly press conference Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Mark Lowe urged Iowa drivers to use caution around school buses and reminded them to be on the lookout for children.
Riding a school bus is one of the safest ways for children to travel to school, but getting on and off the bus can be dangerous. Each school bus has a ten foot “danger zone” around it, making it hard to see children trying to get on or off a bus or cross a highway. In addition, drivers are faced with increased distractions behind the wheel.
“Keeping Iowa’s students safe is fairly easy,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “But it takes awareness and commitment to be on the lookout for a school bus’s yellow flashing lights.”
The “Keep Aware Driving—Youth Need School Safety Act” – or Kadyn’s Law – was signed in March 2012. The law is named for 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson. She was hit by a pickup truck in 2011 while trying to cross the road to get on a school bus. Kadyn’s Law increased criminal penalties for passing a stopped school bus and resulted in the suspension of a person’s driving privileges if convicted.
“Unfortunately, even with these increased penalties, we still have drivers who disobey the law,” Gov. Reynolds said. “In 2016, we saw 581 convictions in Iowa for failure to stop for a school bus.”
“Over and over again, crashes tell us that two of the most important things drivers can do is keep their speed down and their eyes on the road,” Dir. Lowe said.
Drivers are responsible for driving at a reasonable speed, avoiding distractions, staying sober, staying awake and staying aware. Drivers who see a school bus’s yellow flashing lights should:
· Come to a complete stop as quickly as possible.
· Stop at least 15 feet from the bus.
· Remain stopped until the flashing lights are turned off and the stop arm is pulled back in.
It’s also a good idea to remind children that they have a responsibility to be safe around buses too. Students should:
· Stop and look both ways before crossing a street.
· Make sure the bus driver can see them when crossing in front of the bus.
· Never cross behind the bus.
· When getting on or off the bus, never cross the street until the bus driver signals it’s OK to cross.
· If they drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up. Instead, tell the bus driver and wait for instructions.