New state bill could raise fines for cars passing school busses, allow state to change “dangerous” bus stops

VIDEO: Calling for need to improve bus safety

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - State lawmakers are working to improve safety at school bus stops after parents in Charleston County voiced their concerns for drivers passing by busses.

South Carolina state representative Lin Bennett filed a bill this week that would increase fines, license suspensions and even potential jail time for people who violate stop signs on buses.

“The ultimate goal is to get people to realize how dangerous this is, how bad this is,” Bennett said. “If you can’t do something as simple as stopping for a stopped school bus, you need to pay for that and you don’t need to be driving.”

First-time offenders passing stopped school buses would have to pay a minimum fine of $1,000 and have their license suspended for thirty days.

A second conviction increases the minimum fine to $5,000 and six months in jail.

For more than a year, Erica Cokley has filmed cars driving by her children’s bus on Johns island. She said she wants people to be aware of the growing concern among parents.

“It’s been years, I mean, these are our children,” Cokley said. “If it’s happening just right there, then you can best believe that it’s happening everywhere.”

A survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services found that more than 95,000 people across 39 states didn’t stop for school buses on a single day. That number increased from 84,000 last year.

“It’s not just across our state, but across our country,” Bennett said. “It just seems to be a trending, bad situation.”

For parents like Cokley, she says the bill is a step in the right direction

“It makes me feel like I’ve finally been heard,” Cokley said. “If you have to go that far to have a representative get involved, then that means that somebody’s finally listening.”

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