Tragic Accident Could Lead to Change in Indiana’s Laws on Passing School Buses
Late last year, a heartbreaking accident took the lives of three children on the way to their school bus. Now, the Indiana legislature is considering strengthening the penalties that are imposed on drivers who illegally pass school buses. Learn more below, and contact a seasoned Indianapolis personal injury lawyer if you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an accident.
Three children fatally injured while walking to school bus
The accident that spurred lawmakers to consider making changes to existing law occurred on the morning of October 30, 2018. A Fulton County school bus had stopped near the intersection of State Road 25 and CR 400 North with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing. Despite the flashing lights and extended stop arm, a driver traveling in the opposite direction did not stop. The driver hit four children who were walking across the street to get on the stopped bus, including a nine-year-old girl and her twin six-year-old brothers. The three siblings were killed. The fourth child was hospitalized but eventually recovered. The driver, who claimed not to be able to tell that the bus was stopped, said that she did not see the children until they were right in front of her. She has been charged with three counts of reckless homicide, to which she has pleaded not guilty.
Illegal passing of school buses a persistent problem
The deaths of these three children drew statewide attention to the problem of unsafe driving near school buses. Evidence shows that, while this accident was particularly tragic, it was hardly an isolated incident of cars ignoring signs that a school bus is stopped and children may be crossing nearby. An April 2018 study by the Indiana Department of Education showed that, on a single day, observers reported more than 3,000 illegal school bus passing incidents.
State Senator Randy Head has now filed a bill that would impose stiffer penalties on drivers who pass school buses illegally. If the law is passed, a driver who passes a school bus that has its stop arm extended and lights flashing could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, rather than the current charge of a Class D misdemeanor. That driver would face a 90-day license suspension on their first offense, with the suspension lasting as long as a year if they have faced two or more convictions of the same crime. The law would also require that school buses could not stop in a location that would require children to cross a state or federal highway to get to the bus, and would change the process of creating new stop locations and lowering speed limits near bus stops. In the meantime, young victims of accidents near school buses still have a right to compensation from drivers who ignore existing laws on passing school buses.
If you or your child has been injured in a school bus accident in Indiana, get help obtaining compensation for your injuries through a personal injury claim by contacting the compassionate and experienced Indianapolis motor vehicle accident lawyers at Lee, Cossell & Crowley for a free consultation at 317-631-5151.