EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Tough new legislation is in the works to protect students getting on and off the school bus.
The proposal would impose stricter penalties for drivers who disobey school bus stop signs.
Some legislators say getting off a school bus should be safer then it is, so this legislation comes with a message to drivers: look out for the stop sign.
It's a parent's worst nightmare - their child hit by a car moments after getting off her school bus.
"I heard her scream 'Mommy, mommy mommy,' and I still get cold chills thinking about it," said Krista Groves, whose daughter Casey spent almost two weeks in the hospital following that accident.
"I don't want any other child or any other family to have to through what she went through," Groves said. "There's no reason for it."
A year after that accident, lawmakers are trying to crack down on those who disobey school bus stop signs.
"They also know when that arm is extended they are safe so we need to guarantee that safety," said State Representative Suzanne Crouch.
This week a proposal by Representative Crouch was accepted and recommended by a committee in charge of developing legislation for the upcoming session. "When it came to prosecute, we found out that the penalty for hitting a child is the same for the penalty of hitting a mailbox," she said.
The legislation would increase penalties. Those convicted for running a school bus stop sign and hitting a child could face up to one year in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
"While this increases the penalty, hopefully it will increase the public's awareness of how important it is to stop when the school bus has its arm extended and is dropping children off," Crouch said.
Meanwhile, Groves says her daughter Casey is doing better now, but is still facing an uphill battle with the help of physical therapy. "It is a step by step process but we're getting there." And she's fighting the other battle against the legal system one step at a time.
The proposed legislation will be passed to the General Assembly in January of 2009.
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