In a unanimous, bipartisan vote late last night, the US House of Representatives added an amendment authored by Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) to a key transportation funding bill requiring the federal government to devote at least $10 million to helping states enforce traffic laws that punish reckless drivers for illegally passing stopped school buses.
The amendment is completely budget-neutral because it simply redirects operations funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to school bus traffic law enforcement.
"Kadyn's Amendment", which passed last night by unanimous voice vote, is named after 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson, who was fatally struck by a pickup truck in May 2011 as she crossed the street to board her school bus near Northwood, Iowa. The provision devotes $10 million of federal funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to strengthening the enforcement of existing state laws prohibiting drivers from passing stopped school buses that have warning lights flashing and stop arms extended.
"When reckless drivers ignore warnings and pass stopped school buses, children's lives are put at risk," Braley said. "The budget-neutral "Kadyn's Amendment' will strengthen the enforcement of laws punishing drivers who ignore school bus warning lights without costing taxpayers another penny. This measure will help save lives and convince drivers to slow down and act more responsibly around kids and schools.
"Today, Kadyn's memory has brought together an often divided Congress to make our streets safer for our kids as they head off to school. As a father of three, I know how important that is."
Iowa Rep. Tom Latham (IA-04) authored the transportation funding bill that Kadyn's Amendment was attached to. Braley and Latham worked together to gain support for the amendment from the full House, and Latham's support was essential to its passage.
In March, Braley introduced Kadyn's Act, a bill modeled after Iowa's new law of the same name, to require states to strengthen penalties for drivers who pass stopped school buses or risk losing federal highway funding. Even with the passage of Kadyn's Amendment this week, Braley will continue work to pass Kadyn's Act.
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services estimates that cars illegally pass stopped school buses 13 million times per year. An average of 16 children per year are killed by drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.