Local parents and educators support Kadyn's Law - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local parents and educators support Kadyn's Law

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

Friday morning, Governor Terry Branstad will sign Kadyn's Law which will increase penalties for drivers who violate school bus traffic laws. The law is named for 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson. The Northwood girl was struck and killed May 10, 2011 as she walked across a street to board her bus for school.

A 2011 report took a snapshot of the stop arm violation problem in the United States. In a single-day nationwide survey, approximately 112,000 bus drivers reported more than 76,000 vehicles passing their bus illegally. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services calls these findings "alarming."

It's something Gaylen Carpenter said he thinks about every day as he picks his kids up from their bus stop in rural Bremer County.

"Everybody's pretty courteous and well aware of what's happening out here, as far as kids getting on and off," Carpenter said.

It only takes one distracted driver to turn a safe stop into a danger zone. That was the case last spring in Northwood.

"It's tragic. It's tragic," Carpenter said of Halverson's death.

Halverson's death has superintendents like Jere Vyverberg of the Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District thinking about what could happen in their districts.

"We've had some close calls and calls that really make you think, 'Wow, that could have been worse,'" Vyverberg said.

Early on, he voiced his support for a new law made in Kadyn's name.

"We get complaints from bus drivers that people didn't stop, didn't slow down for the flashing lights," he said. "Maybe the laws for school buses and traffic should be a little stiffer."

Under current law, if you illegally drive through a school bus stop arm you face a $200 fine. Under Kadyn's Law, the driver will face up to $350 in fines and a year in jail. Penalties for a second or third offense increase to as much as $7,500 in fines and five years in jail. If a pedestrian is killed, the driver will face a mandatory 15 years in prison.

Above all, the hope is for drivers to remember Halverson's story, and prevent another tragic death.

"I think the goal has been, and I think it's been fulfilled, to at least call attention to, you know what, we need to be more careful," Vyverberg said.

"Hopefully increased fines and that will help in the long run," Carpenter said.

The governor will sign Kadyn's Law at Northwood Elementary, the school Kadyn attended before she was killed last spring. The driver who struck and killed Kadyn is serving 15 years in prison for vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash.

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