Walorski_officialU.S. Representatives. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) this week introduced bipartisan legislation to improve student safety by examining ways to prevent dangerous, illegal passing of school buses when children are present.

“The tragic loss of young Hoosiers in bus-related crashes last year, including in Fulton County, was a reminder that life is precious and that we all need to work together to keep children safe,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Every driver has a responsibility to exercise caution when students are present, and that includes never passing a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing or its stop arm extended. The Stop for School Buses Act will help our states and local communities take the most effective actions to prevent illegal passing of school buses and ensure students are safe when traveling to and from school.”

“As a mom and a former school board member, ensuing our children get safely to and from school every day is an issue that is near and dear to my heart,” Congresswoman Brownley said. “We need to do more to educate drivers and to assess new technologies that can prevent illegal school bus passing. Kids’ lives depend on it.”

“The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) appreciates the work of Representative Walorski and Representative Brownley to introduce the STOP for School Buses Act of 2019,” said Blake Krapf, president of the National School Transportation Association. “The bill provides a comprehensive federal response to the important issue of preventing illegal passing of school buses so that we can ensure that students are just as safe getting on and off their yellow school buses as they are riding inside their yellow school buses, the safest form of transportation over all others. NSTA stands ready to help build support for the bill as it moves through Congress.”

The bipartisan Stop for School Buses Act (H.R. 2218) would improve efforts to prevent illegal passing by directing the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to conduct a comprehensive review of existing laws and programs, recommend best practices, and create a nationwide public safety campaign.

Walorski announced the bill Thursday at the Rochester School Corporation following a demonstration of recently installed school bus cameras, which engage when the stop arm is extended so authorities can hold drivers accountable for illegal passing. Walorski also met with the parents of three siblings who tragically lost their lives last year walking to their bus in Fulton County. Alivia Stahl, Xzavier Ingle, and Mason Ingle died and a fourth student was injured when they were struck by a vehicle passing a school bus with its stop arm extended.

The Stop for School Buses Act would direct a comprehensive, nationwide review of efforts to prevent illegal passing of buses. Under the bill, USDOT would:

  • Compile illegal passing laws in all states, including levels of enforcement and penalties.
  • Review existing public safety measures and programs to prevent illegal passing of school buses.
  • Issue recommendations on best practices for preventing illegal passing.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various technologies that may help prevent illegal passing incidents.
  • Review driver education materials in all states to determine whether more information about illegal passing should be provided to drivers.
  • Research connections between illegal passing of school buses and other safety issues.
  • Create and execute a public safety messaging campaign to promote safe driving when children are present and highlight the dangers of illegal passing.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.