Shilling Authors Bipartisan Legislation to Improve School Bus Safety
MADISON – Bipartisan legislation to strengthen safety protections for students traveling to school by bus is being introduced by Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton), Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) and Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem). While state law requires vehicles to stop when school buses stop and flash their lights, there is an exemption if a sidewalk and curb exist on both sides of the road. This legislation would close the loophole and reduce the risk of serious and sometimes fatal accidents for children.
“Every parent wants to make sure their child can safely get to and from school,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “All too often we have seen news stories of children being severely hurt or killed as the result of a car passing a school bus. These accidents are preventable and this proposal will go a long way to improve the safety of Wisconsin children when they are going to and from school.”
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 1,147 fatal motor vehicle crashes were classified as school-transportation related between 2007 and 2016. In a single week last October, at least five children across the country were killed by vehicles while waiting for the school bus or arriving home from the school bus.
Several local governments in Wisconsin have passed ordinances that attempt to limit this loophole and implement penalties for motorists who pass a school bus, regardless of the presence of curbs or gutters. In December of 2018, the City of La Crosse passed this ordinance with unanimous approval. In addition, several other Wisconsin municipalities have passed similar ordinances including Beloit, Brookfield, Green Bay, Kenosha, Little Chute, Madison, Middleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, Stevens Point, and Waukesha. This bill would create a statewide safety standard.