AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers are looking to increase the penalty for drivers who pass by stopped school buses.
The Texas House unanimously voted to increase the penalty from a class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony on Monday. The reason behind it is to hopefully save a child's life and urge drivers to be more careful when passing school buses.
Video from a few years ago shows drivers just passing by an Austin ISD school bus that is clearly stopped.
Tom Oliverson, one of the representatives behind House Bill 4070 told our partners at the Austin-American Statesman that he approached this from a parent's perspective. He told them drivers have hit more than 85,000 children in the U.S. after crossing a school bus stop sign and that's way too many.
With this third-degree felony, this could now lead to two to 10 years in prison. If drivers pass without hitting someone, it's still a $500 to $1200 fine.
Let's go over some of these rules again about passing school buses. If you're on a two-lane road with no median between the lanes, cars on both sides have to stop while the bus is letting kids on and off. If you're on a road that has a center turn lane that rule still applies. Cars on both sides of traffic have to stop.
If you're on a four-lane road with no median, that same rule still applies. Cars on both sides of the road have to stop, so kids can cross safely. The only time when you don't have to stop is if there's a median between both sides of the road. In that case, cars going in the same direction of the bus have to stop, regardless of which lane they're in. Cars going in the opposite direction can proceed with caution as normal.
The Texas House is set to make its final vote on the issue Tuesday, then it'll go to the Senate.
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