M.A.X. Strong: Walorski introduces bill that could lead to national school bus safety standards
ROCHESTER, Ind. – Hundreds of bus stop arm violations happen every day across the country. One bus stop arm violation in Fulton County caused the death of three children on October 30, 2018.
Mason. Alivia. & Xzavier. Their senseless deaths have inspired change in state laws with the M.A.X. Strong bill. Now, they’re inspiring a national movement.
Congresswoman Jackie Walorski introduced the "Stop for School Buses Act" Thursday aimed at investigating how to make school bus stops safer across the country.
Walorski’s bill will launch a two-year investigation into the best practices for school bus safety. She’s hoping the results of the investigation will turn into federal legislation after the best ways to reduce deaths and injuries in determined.
“There’s kid being killed every day. We are tired of this, this should never happen again,” Walorski said.
Stop arm violations continue to happen on a daily basis both nation-wide and locally. Don King, Rochester Schools’s transportation director, said it’s frustrating that people are still passing stopped school buses even after the tragedy last fall that killed three siblings.
“People have to pay attention and they have to see that big yellow thing sitting out there,” King said. “They go ‘oh I didn’t see it.’ How can you not see that big yellow thing with its lights flashing and everything going on?”
With federal laws in place, King, Walorski, and the parents of hope ‘I didn’t see it’ will no longer be a valid excuse.
“All of our hard work and tears and getting out of bed when we didn’t want to – it’s paying off,” Brittany Ingle said, the mother of Mason, Alivia, and Xzavier.
The bill calls on the US Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board to complete a two-year study and answer these questions…
“What works, what doesn’t, amounts of entries, amounts of deaths, and across the board what did they do to comply? Did they comply? Are they taking any steps to comply? Are they using cameras? Are they using something else?” Walorski explained.
Once those questions are answered, federal bus safety legislation will follow.
“There’s a hodge podge of laws, there’s a hodge podge of things that every state has created but let’s once and for all just settle this and come up with a federal standard and all Americans comply,” Walorski said.
The hope is that stop arm cameras on school buses will become a national standard. This all comes after the M.A.X. Strong bill had its camera language removed at the state level.
“We had a really strong bill going, and to see that it got watered down, it’s really disappointing, but then to get news like this, maybe it will help our bill that we’re trying to pass here in Indiana,” Ingle said. “The sky is the limit, I feel like today.”
What exactly the federal legislation will entail won’t be known until the two-year study is completed. The hope is that stop arm cameras, increasing penalties for drivers who go around stopped school buses and more enhanced driver education is all part of it.