MINGO COUNTY W.Va., – Mingo County students will start the new school year tomorrow (Thursday) with new bus laws geared at keeping students safe as they are entering and exiting buses.
Senate Bill 13 was passed in the regular session of the 2016 West Virginia Legislature on March 12. The new laws increases fines for illegal passing of school buses and authorizes a board of education to mount cameras on buses for better enforcement of the stricter law.
Last year, many school bus drivers contacted the Williamson Daily News in regard to motorists passing buses illegally and creating unsafe conditions for students loading and unloading buses.
The National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NHTSA) states, that on average, about 134 school transportation related crashes occur each year.
Article 12 of Senate Bill states, “The driver of a vehicle upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus which has stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus when there in operation on the school bus flashing warning signal lights and the driver may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed…” Article 12 further states, “this section applies to wherever the school bus is receiving or discharging children including but not limited to any street, highway, parking lot, private road or driveway.”
If convicted of violating Senate Bill 13, motorists will be guilty of a misdemeanor and be required to pay a fine and will have their driver’s license suspended for a period of time. The convicted driver could also be required to serve jail time. Article 12 states, “Any driver acting in violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction of a first offense shall be fined not less than $250 or more than $500 or confined in jail not more than six months or both fined and confined. Upon conviction of a second violation the driver shall be fined not less than $500 or more than $1000 or be confined in jail for no more than six months or both fined and confined. Upon conviction of a third or subsequent violation, the driver shall be fined $1000 and be confined not less than 48 hours in jail but not more than six months.”
The article explains the license suspension for drivers convicted of violating Senate Bill 13 stating, “The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall, upon conviction, suspend the driver’s license of the person convicted : For a first offense a period of 30 days, A second offense a period of 90 days and a third or subsequent offense for a period of 180 days.”
For more information on school bus safety can be found by visiting www.schoolbusfacts.com.
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)