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New Law Aims to Prevent School Bus Pedestrian Accidents

May 10, 2013

When a school bus is stopped and there are lights flashing to alert motorists that children are disembarking, drivers are legally required to stop for the bus. The purpose of this law is to keep kids safe and to reduce the chances of a young child getting hit by a car. Our Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers know that kids are among the top victims of pedestrian accidents each year, and laws such as the school bus rules aim to avoid situations where children are in danger.

Unfortunately, not every driver follows the laws and some go around a stopped bus, increasing the risk of a pedestrian accident. A driver who violates the law and passes a stopped bus is creating a significant risk. The child getting off the bus might not be looking for a moving car. The driver might not have time to brake for a child darting out in front of the vehicle. Because of the dangers of cars not stopping for school buses, a new Illinois law would impose tougher penalties and make enforcement of school-bus stopping laws easier.

Proposed New Illinois Law Would Crack Down on Drivers

According to School Transportation News, SB0923 is currently under consideration by Illinois lawmakers. The proposed law would allow Illinois school districts to put cameras on the back of school buses in order to catch offenders who do not stop when a school bus has its sign extended and its lights flashing.

The new law not only allows for a camera to catch drivers who do not obey the law, but it also imposes tough penalties on those motorists who are caught on camera breaking the rules. Any driver who is found going around a school bus with flashing lights and a stop-arm out can be fined $150 for the first offense and can be fined $500 for any subsequent offenses thereafter.  The offense would not, however, be considered a moving violation resulting in a license suspension.

Those in support of the law indicate that the additions of cameras on buses and the tough new laws would be an important deterrent in discouraging drivers who break the law. The cameras and fine were described as a ‘safety mechanism” by the bill’s sponsor, and the bill was supported by a clear majority in the Senate. The bill has cleared its Senate vote now and is moving on to the Illinois House of Representatives.

Opponents of the bill express concern about the steep fines and about whether putting cameras on the backs of the buses is constitutional.  The law is unpopular in Chicago especially, as many in the area are wary of the cameras due to past problems with red light cameras. The red light cameras were implicated in a bribery scandal that made headline news.

Despite the misconceptions of opponents, however, it is clear that the new law would do more to protect school kids getting off  buses from drivers who don’t want to follow the law.

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in the Chicago, Illinois area, contact Coplan + Crane at 800-394-6002 or visit our Oak Park office.