MASON CITY, Ia – Almost three years ago, 7 year old Kadyn Halverson from Kensett was hit and killed as she was crossing the street to get on the bus.
That day laws changed, soon “Kadyn’s Law” was put in place.
Now Congressman Bruce Braley is expanding on this and overhauling school bus laws at the federal level.
“When I leave in the morning, I put my children in the hands of the school bus and want them to be safe while they wait at the bus stop and as a ride the bus everyday,” says Carmen Wickering.
She is a mother of three children who are, and will be riding the bus. She is like every other parent who relies on the school bus to keep her children safe.
This is why Congressman Bruce Braley is looking deeper into what needs to be done nationally to improve safety procedures.
We’re told this hasn’t been done in 15 years.
“I think any time that they start to create the new laws and regulations they are really focused with safety, it’s all about what is the best for kids and to keep kids safe and not only on the bus but outside of the bus,” says Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Hal Minear.
Braley is proposing that every state must follow “Kadyn’s Law” which requires strict penalties for those who ignore the lights and stop arm.
Iowa already follows this.
“Even if it’s just going through the alarm, the fines have increased perhaps jail time as well,” says Minear.
He is also trying to create grants for motion detection systems. This technology would alert a bus driver when a moving target is detected in the danger zones, where drivers can’t always see.
“Those danger zone areas are really crucial for drivers,” adds Minear.
Things get a little more controversial, when it comes to seat belts.
Braley wants to equip buses with seatbelts for every child, but Minear says it would be hard to enforce.
“They don’t have time to go buckle every kid in,” he says.
But many parents like the idea.
“I think that would be wonderful, I myself have always wondered why they don’t have seat belts in the school bus so I think that would be a great thing and they definitely need to keep those under consideration,” says Wickering.
Finally the congressman also would require states to perform background checks on all drivers.
If states fail to comply with this section and the harsher penalties in “Kadyns Law,” 10 percent of their highway funds would be lost.
This would then go towards funding motion detectors and seatbelts.
Braley says there is more risk in coming and going from school than there is on the playground, which has to change.
“Just increasing school bus laws would be a great way to help all of our kids safety,” adds Wickering.
An average of 6 children are killed every year in school bus related accidents while 12 children are killed walking outside the bus.