SALT LAKE CITY — The House passed a bill 64-10 to increase the penalty for passing a school bus displaying flashing lights.
Following a lively debate, the bill, which would raise the fine from $100 to $250 for a first time offense, was also amended to include a provision that would require an offender to carry out community service.
HB84 sponsor Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, said his idea for the legislation came to him from a local school district concerned about children’s safety as they moved on and off buses.
“Young kids just aren’t paying attention,” Hall said. “We need to rely on drivers to be aware of their surroundings.”
He pointed to a study which found that the law was violated more than 900 times in a single day.
“I know it can be frustrating to wait the extra 30 seconds, but we need to remind drivers to stop so we can avoid a potential horrible, fatal thing, “Hall said.
Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen, proposed adding community service as a penalty.
“I do not believe that there is a single reason that a person needs to pass a school bus. They are very visible, they are big, they are yellow and they have flashing lights that draw your attention,” Chew said.
A few years after he graduated high school, Chew’s younger siblings were riding the bus home when a third grader stepped off the bus and was killed by a passing car.
Chew told lawmakers that he wants drivers to understand the severity of what could happen. He does not believe the fine increase alone would be enough to discourage drivers so he suggested the addition of 10 hours of community service on a first offense, and 20 hours on the second.
“I mean wake up, if somebody’s doing this at anytime with something as serious as passing a school bus, we need to wake them up,” Chew said.