Nathan’s Law change allows four lane road passing in opposite lane
Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2016
An amendment to Nathan’s Law went into effect this month, meaning vehicles traveling along a four-lane road in the opposite direction of a bus will no longer have to stop when it does.
However, local law enforcement agencies still ask motorists to exercise caution when a school bus stops, no matter what lane they are in.
“Be cautious in case a kid decides to dart across the median for some reason,” said Picayune Police Department Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri.
Nathan’s Law was passed in 2011 in response to an accident that took the life of 5-year-old Nathan Key in 2009. The accident occurred when a vehicle illegally passed a stopped school bus as Key disembarked the bus.
The law enhanced penalties for drivers who pass a stopped school bus. An amendment to the law that went into effect at the beginning of this month states that motorists traveling along a four-lane highway in the opposite side of traffic are no longer required to stop for a stopped school bus.
Motorists in the same lane of travel as the bus still need to stop.
The law states that vehicles traveling behind a bus or in the opposite lane in a two-lane road are still required to stop at least 10 feet from the bus when it stops.
Violations of the law carry a fine of up to $750 for the first offense, whether a child is harmed or not. If a child is injured or dies due to a motorist illegally passing a school bus, and they are convicted, the driver could be sentenced to up to 20 years in jail, the bill states.
With the change to the law, several signs in Picayune will be removed, Magri said.
There are currently signs warning drivers that all four lanes must stop for a stopped school bus along Memorial Boulevard, Sycamore Road, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Main Street and Bruce Street. Those signs will be taken down soon, Magri said.
While incidents of Picayune motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus does not happen often, Magri warns motorists that bus drivers are equipped to report violations of the law.
On each bus is a radio bus drivers can use to communicate with school resource officers to report violators. Some buses are also equipped with cameras to catch violators.