MASON CITY, Iowa – As part of an ongoing effort to address school bus safety, advocates of a new legislation are gathering in our area.
US Rep. Bruce Braley (D) Iowa, is joined by Superintendent of schools, Anita Micich and Kristen Meyer, aunt of the late Kaydn Halverson of Kensett who was struck by a vehicle and killed while entering a school bus back in 2011.
The School Bus Safety Act introduced by Braley is meant to ensure that students are as safe as possible in and around buses and that schools have the resources they need to provide those safety measures.
“I can tell you that this tragedy has opened my eyes and it made me more aware of the school buses around me. Every time I see a school bus, I get flashbacks of the worst day of my life,” said Meyer.
Since her death, Kadyn’s family has reached out to try to relay the message that school bus safety should be one of our greatest priorities.
“I don’t know that there will ever be any answer for the questions that continually run through my head. I finally realized that nothing can bring her back and that my family united with many other caring individuals, must make an impact on our children’s lives,” said Meyer.
Kadyn’s Law is just one component of the School Bus Safety Act, but according to Braley it garners even more meaning because of the story behind the cause.
“We know that statistically, this is a common problem of people breaking the law and passing the stopped school buses. So from the lesson of Kaydn’s death, the Iowa Legislature increased the penalties for those who break the law as a way of trying to keep them from doing that,” said Braley.
The School Bus Safety Act includes mandating harsher penalties for drivers in all states who unlawfully pass stopped school buses.
It also includes an important component in Braley’s eyes which requires states to perform background checks on drivers.
“If you’re hauling cargo in the truck you must have a background check our most precious cargo is our children you at least should have the same burden if you’re trying to be a school bus driver,” said Braley.
“If you think about how many lives and how many children are going to school everyday, they need to be protected while they’re going,” said Meyer.
Here is a break down of the School Bus Safety Act:
-Kaydn’s Law: Harsher penalties for those who unlawfully pass stopped school buses.
-Establishing a grant through the US Department of Transportation to provide funding for schools to build motion sensors on their buses.
-Requires all states to run background checks on bus drivers during the hiring process.
-Establish funding to help schools retrofit seat belts on their school buses.
-Potential innovations designed to help buses stop for school buses.
In order to help hold other states accountable for the safety of their school buses, the act calls for 10 percent of highway dollars to be withheld from each state that does not comply.