Legislature Votes to Crack Down on Motorists Passing School Buses

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a bill that toughens the penalties on motorists who pass stopped school buses.

The House voted 101-0 Thursday in favor of the bill that House sponsor Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne, says will clarify for drivers when they must stop for a school bus. The Senate voted 31-0 to approve changes made in the House and the legislation now goes to Gov. Bob Riley for his signature.

The bill would establish fines of $150 to $300 for the first offense; $300 to $500 plus 100 hours of community service for the second violation; $500 to $1,000 and 200 hours of community service for the third violation, and $1,000 to $3,000 and one to 10 years in prison for a fourth offense

The bill applies to school buses, buses operated by the Associations of Retarded Citizens and church buses that have stop signs like regular school buses.

The legislation allows school bus drivers and others to report license plates of cars that illegally pass buses, so that police can pursue prosecution. It also clarifies that on a divided four-lane highway only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus must stop.

Davis and Senate sponsor, Sen. Ted Little, D-Auburn, said the legislation would save lives. Davis said there have been at least three children killed in recent years in accidents at bus stops.

Davis said a purpose of the bill is to make the public aware of the importance of stopping when children are entering or leaving school buses.

Little said there are about 600,000 students in school buses on Alabama roads every day.