Irresponsible drivers have an added incentive to pay attention and obey the law thanks to an increase in penalties for drivers who don’t stop for school buses with flashing lights.
In the past violators of the “Isaac Law” faced a fine up to $1,000 and a possible 90 day term in the county jail. An increase in documented cases of vehicles passing buses stopped to let kids off caused Arkansas lawmakers to revisit the issue last session. As a result, Act 166 was passed to increase punishments for violators. Under the new law violators can now face up to a $2,500 fine and be charged with a class A misdemeanor.
The law states, “When a school bus stops and displays its alternating red warning lights for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers, every operator of a motor vehicle or motorcycle meeting or overtaking the school bus from any direction shall bring the motor vehicle or motorcycle to a complete stop before reaching the school bus.
The operator of the motor vehicle or motorcycle shall not start up or attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.”
The law applies to all roadways including two lane, four lane, and four lane with a turning lane.
A majority of students in Montgomery County ride school buses to and from school each day. Superintendent Deric Owens stated that Caddo Hills runs 11 routes each day with around 380-400 students riding a bus. Superintendent Mike White shared that Mount Ida runs six routes with approximately 200 students riding buses to and from school. Oden Principal William Edwards stated that they run four routes with approximately 130 students riding the bus in the afternoon.
Governor Asa Hutchinson reminded everyone this week that Arkansas is once again participating in the “Flashing Red. Kids Ahead” campaign. The purpose of the “Flashing Red. Kids Ahead” slogan is to make everyone aware that it is illegal to pass a stopped bus. This is the seventh year the Arkansas Department of Education has focused on the responsibility of drivers to stop every time they encounter a school bus with its stop signs out and red lights flashing.
Governor Hutchinson mentioned in his statement that there are approximately 6,000 buses transporting 350,000 students to and from school each day.
A one day statewide survey recorded 884 motorists illegally passing a bus. That means drivers illegally passed 15 percent of stopped school buses in Arkansas.
The Governor added that the most frightening statistic is that 12 drivers passed a bus on the right side where the children board.