Arkansas House of Representatives weekly column for 8-19-22

As Arkansas students head back to school, we want to take this week to remind drivers to be mindful of student safety when approaching school buses.

It is estimated that close to 350,000 students in our state ride a bus to school. Those buses make stops in every community.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing, as students are present. The fines, penalties and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were increased dramatically by Act 2128 of 2005, also known as Isaac’s Law. 

The legislation was named in honor of Isaac Brian, an elementary school student in the Bryant School District who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were exiting the vehicle.

The law requires drivers to stop on 2 lane and 4 land highways in both directions, even those with a middle lane. Drivers cannot attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.

In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed Act 264 to clarify the distance and areas where drivers must stop.

It states drivers must come to a complete stop no less than 30 feet from the bus when it stops to load or unload passengers. This 30 feet perimeter would apply to public roads, private or public property open to the general public, and any driveway or parking lot belonging to a public school.

Arkansans should also remember that the use of handheld wireless phones are prohibited in a school zone. In 2019, the General Assembly passed legislation making the use of a handheld phone in school zones a primary offense.

Every one of us has a responsibility to ensure students arrive to and from school safely.

Remember: Flashing Red means Kids Ahead. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.flashingredkidsahead.org.

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