Waterloo bus drivers pleading with public to follow Kadyn's Law - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo bus drivers pleading with public to follow Kadyn's Law

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Managers of Eastern Iowa school bus companies are pleading with drivers to pay attention before another child is injured, or even killed.

It's been nearly one month since Governor Terry Branstad put his signature on Kadyn's Law -- named for a North Iowa girl who was struck and killed while crossing the street at her bus stop.

Kevin Casey, Local Manager of First Student Inc. in Waterloo is concerned that stiffer penalties and increased awareness are not enough to stop drivers in Waterloo from breaking the law.

"My high school kids are really awesome, because they jump up and they've got the make of the car, the year of the car, the plate number, how many people were in the car and what they looked like. That's how often it happens on my route," said driver Lee Ann Tomlinson.

Tomlinson said, the majority of drivers follow the law. They see lights flash, the stop arm extend, and they know to come to a halt. But it only takes one reckless driver create a dangerous situation.

"They drive by, and my heart jumps out. The last thing I want to see is a kid get hit by a car," said Tomlinson.

Casey said he was hopeful Kadyn's Law would put a stop to the problem. That is, until he had to report more than 20 stop arm violations in March -- and that's just the ones they caught.

"We feel, instead of stop arm violations decreasing, they're actually increasing," he noted.

Casey finally decided to call KWWL after an incident that happened last week at a stop near Hawkeye Community College. The school bus had stopped, the kids were getting off, and the driver saw a truck barreling in his direction -- showing no signs of slowing down.

"He proceeded to lay on his horn, and he startled the student who was walking in front of the bus. The truck flew right by him. If it was another foot it could have been a very serious injury," said Casey.

Waterloo's Director of Safety Services Dan Trelka said, frankly, it makes him sick to hear a story like this. As a parent himself, he's committed to cracking down on violators.

"That big yellow bus, you shouldn't miss it. You should be able to see it just because of its color. People just aren't paying attention," Trelka noted.

Trelka said, the strength of the law is the bus driver's record is all police need to issue a citation.  And Kadyn's Law has drastically enhanced the penalties. First time violators face a minimum $350 fine, and up to a year in jail. If someone is injured, the driver faces a mandatory five years in jail and up to $7500 in fines.

Casey is hoping that by continuing to talk about the problem -- and continuing to report violators -- drivers will have to start paying attention.

"It's dangerous, and it's children's lives we're talking about here. We've been lucky so far," he said.

And Casey doesn't want to rely on luck to save a student's life.

"It's a gambling game that we're playing. Because sooner or later someone is going to get killed if people aren't paying attention to the laws that are in place,"

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