Twenty six million children ride nearly half a million school buses in the United States every school day. Given the great number of school buses on the road, accidents involving them are sadly inevitable. There were 111 fatalities and 13,000 injuries resulting from school bus-related crashes in 2019 alone. Most of these tragedies could have been prevented had motorists only observed safer driving practices around school buses.
Obey School Bus Stop Signs
Consider a school bus’s stop sign the most important signal you will ever see on the road. When it is extended, it is protecting the lives of precious children.
Iowa state law* clearly dictates how motorists are to treat a stopped school bus. When you approach a school bus from the rear on a two-lane or three-lane road, you may not pass the bus when its warning lights are flashing. Prepare to stop no closer than 15 feet from the bus once it has extended its stop sign. Remain stopped until the sign has retracted. If you approach a bus from the front, drive no faster than 20 mph when you see its flashing warning lights. Stop once the bus has extended its stop sign, and remain stopped until it has retracted.
The same rules apply when you approach a school bus from the rear on a road with two or more lanes in each direction. However, if you approach a bus from the front under these circumstances, it is not necessary to slow for its warning lights or stop for its stop sign. A bus cannot legally load or unload children when they would have to cross such a roadway unless appropriate traffic control or law enforcement officers are present. This does not mean you should not exercise extreme caution under such circumstances, however, as children may still run into oncoming traffic once they have exited a bus.
*Note that Iowa state law does not apply in other jurisdictions.
Slow Down Wherever Children Are Likely Present
Ask any parent: All the rules in the world cannot fully control a child’s behavior. Despite having received countless warnings not to do so, children are still capable of running into the street and into oncoming traffic.
Never fail to obey the posted speed limit in school zones. Even when you are not driving in a school zone, take special care to drive slowly and exercise greater caution wherever children could be present. Stores near schools are busy with children just before and after the school day. Roads that run alongside playgrounds, parks and bike trails are often crossed by children as well. Drive like your own child may dart out into the road at any given moment and you are less likely to suffer an accident, too!
What Is Kadyn’s Law?
Kadyn’s law was unanimously adopted by the Iowa Legislature in 2012 after a seven-year-old boy named Kadyn Jade Halverson was struck by a pickup truck while attempting to cross the road for his school bus. The driver of the truck had violated Iowa Code 321.372: the stop arm law which prohibits drivers from passing school buses while their stop signs are extended.
Kadyn’s law increased criminal penalties for passing a stopped school bus in Iowa. The penalties for the first, second and third offenses are as follows:
- First offense: A fine of at least $250 but not more than $675, and/or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, and a 30-day license suspension
- Second offense: A fine of at least $315, but not more than $1,875, and/or imprisonment not to exceed one year, and a 90-day license suspension
- Third offense: A fine of at least $315, but not more than $1,875, and/or imprisonment not to exceed one year, and a 180-day license suspension
Violations of Kadyn’s law that result in injury or death carry even greater punishments. Serious injury by vehicle, which is a Class D felony, is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Homicide by vehicle while intoxicated, a Class B felony, is punishable by no fewer than 25 years imprisonment.
Failing to Stop for a School Bus Can Affect Your Car Insurance Premium
Naturally, paying more for car insurance is not the worst thing that can happen if you fail to stop for a school bus, but it is still a deterrent to unsafe driving. Drivers who fail to stop for a school bus pay an average of 29% more for auto insurance – an increase which usually amounts to more than $500 annually. If you violate additional laws while failing to stop for a school bus, then your insurance premium may rise even higher.
School bus safety is a matter of grave importance. We encourage you to exercise the utmost caution whenever you are driving around children. And to be very certain, children could be present on the road at any given time.