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BUS SAFETY: Room For Improvement

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A review of Iowa’s new school bus safety laws show there is still some room for improvement.

During last year's legislative session lawmakers took steps to improve safety for students who ride the bus. A recent report showed new bus safety laws are being upheld, but there are ways to make the bus system even safer for the thousands of kids who take a school bus to and from school every day.

The report made suggestions like dropping kids off on the same side as their home when possible, so they don't have to cross the street or adding a camera to the stop sign arm to catch violators if they do pass the school bus.

DOT Traffic and Safety Director Steve Gent said the most cost effective suggestion was to add a second stop sign to the rear end of the bus. “That really helps for people approaching the bus, there is stop sign right there instead of up by the driver so that really seems to help.” he said.

The study was put together as part of a legislative requirement when Kadyn's Law was passed. It's named after 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson, who was killed by a driver who didn't stop for her school bus.

The state director of school transportation says he hopes with a few suggestions school districts can work in these changes to continue to make school bus safety a priority.

"We transport, about 240,000 school children every day, and that`s twice everyday on our school buses, that`s a tremendous amount of bodies to be transporting, and the fact that we do it with very few injuries or even fatalities, shows how safe school buses really are," said State Director Max Christensen.  

Currently there are 20 school districts in Iowa are already using stop arm cameras to help catch drivers who violate the stop sign.

The report also suggested including school bus safety as a priority in driver's education classes, to make people more aware of the law.