Local bus driver pushes for stricter stop-arm violation legislation

It's one of the most basic questions on driver’s safety tests, but too often drivers are ignoring it and kids are getting hurt or even killed.

Minnesota law requires drivers to stop at least 20 feet from buses in both directions when the flashing lights are on.

After seeing some deadly accidents across the country this fall, a local driver is pushing for change.

“These kids, they are the most precious cargo in the world,” said Reid Lalime-Hulke, a school bus driver.

Driving school buses for two years, Lalime-Hulke is alarmed by what she's watched unfold this fall.

Three siblings in Indiana, plus a 9-year-old in Mississippi killed while crossing the street to catch their school bus.

Plus, in Tampa, Florida several people were injured including five children by drivers going around buses illegally.

“Last one I had was last week,” said Lalime-Hulke. “I had them back-to-back on frontage road, by 100. They don’t want to wait. It’s about lives here.”

Lalime-Hulke is now one of more than 1,000 people to sign this petition created out of state.

She's helping push for a federal law involving stop arm violations.

“It’s terrifying,” Lalime-Hulke said. “Especially if you see that  kid is off the car and you see that car coming and you are on the horn. You are lucky when you can flag that kid down and get the kid to stop because the car probably won’t.”

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association supports anything that would raise the bar and increase dialoge on this issue.

Tracking shows drivers ignoring stop arms occurs about 2,000 times a day in Minnesota, but annually there are only about 200 convictions.

Factors range from drivers needing to get plate number along with driver and vehicle descriptions within seconds. Also, there is a lack of stop arm cameras.

“The judges are dismissing it for whatever reason too,” said Shelly Jonas, a spokesperson for the MN School Bus Operators Association. “I don't know if they feel there is not proof there. A few counties that don't prosecute unless they have video.”

Latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2006- 2015 show more than 1,300 people killed in school transportation-related accidents.

The majority are occupants in other vehicles, while 102 victims were classified as school-age pedestrians.

You can find the petition here