Finally, the bus safety law has some teeth

A Daily Mail editorial from the Charleston Gazette-Mail 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Passing a stopped school bus is not only illegal, but it also places children’s lives at risk.

Until now, though, its been difficult for law enforcement to arrest drivers accused of passing a stopped bus. But Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin last week signed a law that would make it easier to charge motorists who zoom past stopped school buses and endanger our children.

According to the State Journal, the Legislature in 2007 passed a bill making the illegal passing of a school bus a separate crime. That was in response to the death of 6-year-old Haven Brooke McCarthy, who was struck and killed in Lincoln County when a car illegally passed the school bus she was exiting.

But actually charging drivers with the crime turned out to be difficult. Even though school bus cameras snap photos of license plates, prosecutors said those images couldn’t be used to press charges, the Daily Mail reported last year.

In 2010, the Legislature changed the school bus safety law to increase fines and penalties levied against those convicted of illegally passing a school bus. But that change also eliminated a provision that subjected the owner of a vehicle caught passing a bus to a misdemeanor and a $200 fine if the driver of the vehicle couldn’t be identified.

Increasing fines and penalties was a good first step, and the Legislature is to be credited for following through this year and further strengthening the law…

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