Could increased fines keep kids safer?

Local News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Argenta-Oreana School District has had dozens of drivers illegally pass school buses. But, a bill which just cleared the House could call for harsher penalties.

Drivers could be fined double for breaking the law. One district is doing what it can to catch drivers in the act.

Cori Smith has been a bus driver for six years. On a full route, there could be 50 – 60 kids on the bus.

“In the afternoon, they’re kind of wired for sound and you got to keep your mind on everything.”

It includes other drivers on the road. When her lights start flashing and the crossing arms come out, she’s picking up or dropping off.

“Some people think that it means speed up so they can get past it and they don’t have to wait for the stop sign.”

Smith says that thinking is dangerous.

“If there’s no way to stop that car or get their attention, they could fling a child clear over their car.”

A bill which just passed the House would double the amount drivers would pay for illegally passing a school bus. A first violation would cost $300 and, if you do it again, it would be $1,000.

“The life of a child is at stake. There’s nothing so important that you have to rush past a school bus with its arm out.”

Argenta-Oreana’s transportation director Mark Daley says they had so many drivers who broke the law, they installed cameras on all their buses. They’ve caught more than 70 violators using them.

“It’s not worth it. Just slow down and stop for the stop arms.”

Smith says it’s a warning everyone should follow.

“It’s hurtful they don’t understand how hurtful it can be to somebody.”

Right now, first time violators of the law pay $150. After that, you pay $500.

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