'Kadyn's Amendment' Included in Transportation Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Additional federal resources to help enforce school bus-related traffic laws approved in a federal transportation bill should help prevent accidents like those that claimed the lives of two Iowa school children, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley said June 27.
Braley’s “Kadyn’s Amendment” was inspired by the death of 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson, who was fatally struck by a pickup truck in May 2011 as she crossed the street to board her school bus near Northwood.
“When reckless drivers ignore warnings and pass stopped school buses, children’s lives are put at risk,” Braley said.
His amendment would make $10 million available for federal n additional resources to helping states enforce traffic laws that punish reckless drivers for illegally passing stopped school buses.
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services estimates that cars illegally pass stopped school buses 13 million times each year. On average, 16 children are killed each year by drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses, the group said.
States, including Iowa, have toughened the penalty for drivers who ignore the warning lights and flashing arms of school buses. After Halverson’s death, the Iowa Legislature approved “Kadyn’s Law.” The fine for a first offense runs from $250 to $675 and a violator can be sent to jail for up to 30 days. A second offense within five years is a serious misdemeanor, with fines ranging from $315 to $1,875 and a jail term up to a year. The legislation also requires the state to undertake a public education campaign to raise awareness about the law and its penalties.
That’s where Braley’s amendment comes in. The Iowa Democrat’s legislation requires the federal government to devote at least $10 million to helping states enforce traffic laws that punish reckless drivers for illegally passing stopped school buses.
It’s budget-neutral because it simply redirects operations funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to school bus traffic law enforcement, he said.
His amendment was attached to a transportation funding bill authored by Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham. Braley and Latham worked together to gain support for the amendment from the full House, and Latham’s support was essential to its passage.
“Kadyn’s memory has brought together an often divided Congress to make our streets safer for our kids as they head off to school,” Braley said.
The resources also would be used to improve all facets of school bus safety, Braley said. That would include incidents like the one that claimed the life of 11-year-old Justin Bradfield of Janesville in 2011. After getting off a school bus, Bradfield stopped in front of the bus to retrieve something he dropped and was struck by the bus.
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