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Advocates Call For Safer School Buses

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 05 Oct 2011 02:47pm | comments
Andy Key

A New school bus safety law is in effect in Mississippi, but school bus safety advocates say they still have more work to do. M-P-B's Jeffrey Hess reports on efforts to make Mississippi kids safer on their ride to and from school.

A group of Madison station elementary forth graders plays before a school bus safety press conference in Jackson yesterday...forth grader Zakyia Williams is already thinking of ideas for improving safety on her ride to school.

"I get nervous when we don't have seat belts on the bus, because it is like, we keep jumping up and down on the bumps. But if we had seat belts, than we wouldn't be jumping up and down high," Williams said.

The state's school bus safety task force is also thinking about the busses themselves, looking for new technology or design improvements that could make the ride to school safer....those recommendations could come as soon as next year.

Madison Station bus driver Eric Washington says the state needs tougher laws because too many drivers still pass his stopped bus.

"They do it all the time. But it is not right though, they don't respect the stop sign. We will hold the horn. If we see a car coming we will toot the horn to make sure they see us. Hopefully a police officer will see us and they will stop the car and give them a ticket," Washington said.

A new law known as Nathan's law went into effect in Mississippi this year, tightening penalties for illegally passing a stopped bus.

The law is named for Nathan Key, a Jones County Boy who was hit and killed when a driver passed his stopped bus....Nathan's father Andy says the law is an achievement but more can be done.

"As long as there are still children getting injured getting on and off school busses, there is work to be done. So you can't really say 'mission accomplished. this is all finish. hurray we won'. But it is certainly a huge victory and a huge step forward," Key said.

Key says he is forming a national group to spread implementation of the law, as well as working with the state school bus safety task force to look for more safety improvements.



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