Lawmakers take aim at drivers speeding by school bus stop signs

Local

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – If you are driving by a school bus, you will want to slow down and stop, or be prepared to pay. Some Kansas lawmakers want to add another layer of safety to school buses. They are working on House Bill 2154 which aims to catch people speeding by school bus stop signs, thanks to new technology.

“Those school buses are carrying our most precious cargo — our children, and we have to do everything we can to keep them safe,” said Geoff Andrews, superintendent of schools for the Salina Diocese.

When you see the flashing lights, it means only one thing.

“If you see a school bus and a stop sign is out — stop!” said Rep. Stephen Owens. “Okay, you’re not in that much of a hurry to put a child’s life at risk,” he said.

In September 2020, 7-year-old Cecilia Graf died after being hit while trying to get on the bus in Abilene.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Cecilia and her family, and everybody that was involved in the accident that day,” Andrews said.

According to the Kansas Department of Education, more than a thousand people illegally pass school buses daily in Kansas.

The bill would create a public-private partnership to catch those drivers on camera.

“That company Bus Patrol would actually install these cameras on every single school bus in the state at their own expense — it activates when that swing arm opens, it’s recording with some specific AI technology, all of the license plates and things like that,” Rep. Owens explained.

Local law enforcement would review the footage. If found guilty, the driver could face a civil citation with a $250 fine.

“No cost to the state, no cost to the taxpayer, unless you break the law, and if you break the law, you’re gonna get penalized,” Rep. Owens said.

“We know a bill that passes through a House and becomes a law won’t bring back Cecilia, but it can hopefully help to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Andrews said.

The Kansas House Judiciary Committee recommends the whole House pass the bill. A vote has not been scheduled yet.

If it passes, districts would have to opt in to get the cameras.

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