A new report out Friday from the Iowa Department of Transportation shows students are still at risk of drivers ignoring school bus stop signs.
The report is about the effectiveness of Kadyn's Law, which went into effect July 1. The law is named for a seven-year-old who was hit and killed when a driver didn't stop for her school bus.
Outside Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School in Dubuque Friday afternoon, students piled onto their buses at the end of the day. Parents such as Joni Knopp, who has a sixth grade daughter at Roosevelt, hope Kadyn's Law will keep them safe.
"As a parent, we appreciate anything that the school or the community or the government in general does to protect our kids because we can't be with them every second of the day," she said Friday afternoon.
The Iowa DOT report, however, shows in 65 percent of the convictions they examined between August 15 and October 31, offenders were fined less than the minimum $250 requirement.
Assistant Dubuque County attorney Ryan Gallagher said that is likely due to the fact that county prosecutors statewide are so used to the old fines and penalties for running a bus's stop sign.
"Now that this new, increased fine has come out, it takes a little bit for people to get used to it and get used to the new numbers," he said. "I think that's more the case than anything else."
He said Kadyn's Law bumped the offense up from a $200 minimum fine and traffic violation to a $250 minimum fine, simple misdemeanor on the first offense and possible 30-day revocation of a person's drivers license. Under Kadyn's Law, those penalties increase for each subsequent conviction.
"The more people hear about it, that, you know, their friend has gotten this ticket, their friend has faced this penalty, hopefully it trickles down and hopefully we got more cautious drivers when approaching our school buses," Gallagher said, who now sees about four to five Kadyn's Law cases a month, he said.
It's currently up to school bus drivers to note and report violations. Law enforcement takes it from there.
According to the Iowa DOT report, 20 Iowa school districts are using cameras on school bus stop sign arms to help with enforcement. The report suggests more districts implement this, if they can, to increase kids' safety.
"A lot of times people don't really know that they've broken something until you show them on video, and then they're finally convinced," Gallagher said.
"It's better safe than sorry. If you're thinking about 'Should I go? Should I not go?' Don't go," Knopp said. "We need to do our best to protect every kid that's out on the street."
According to the Iowa DOT study, the National Association of the State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services reports this is a big problem. The association says that on a daily basis, 100,000 school bus drivers nationwide report more than 88,000 vehicles pass their buses illegally.
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