CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Vehicle owners will now be held responsible for illegally passing a stopped school bus in West Virginia.
“We have videos on our buses on the side that get the people running the lights that we can identify the license plate number,” said Jimmy Lacy, supervisor of transportation at Kanawha County Schools.
Lacy said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline” in just one day about 90 vehicles in the county failed to stop for a school bus that was either letting students off or on.
“It’s unreal that there’s that many people that are doing it. It’s very scary,” he said. “If you think that’s one day there’s 179 other days that we’re on the road with kids.”
In an effort to improve highway safety, Lacy pushed for legislation (HB 4198) this regular legislative session that would help them identify vehicle owners who violate the law. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the bill earlier this month.
The current law says law enforcement had to have eye-witness testimony of the person operating the vehicle in violation before issuing a citation, but now Lacy said the revised law would hold more people accountable.
“It doesn’t matter who’s driving. The owner of the vehicle is still going to be responsible for their vehicle,” he said.
Lawmakers made sure to write the bill to insure charges would fall to somebody else if it could be proven the car was actually being operated in violation by another person.
Lacy said one of the main reasons why he believes drivers illegally pass the buses is due to distractions.
“Not necessarily people texting or talking on their cellphones, but there’s other distractions. Sad to say, we see people driving up the road putting make up on or reading a newspaper on their steering wheel,” he said.
The law goes into effect July 1.