TV-6 Investigates: Kadyn's Law, Conviction Rate Low - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

TV-6 Investigates: Kadyn's Law, Conviction Rate Low


Part two of our investigation into Kadyn's Law examines how often drivers actually get turned in to the justice system.

Kadyn's law that increased the penalties for drivers in Iowa who pass a stopped school bus with its stop arm out.

T-V 6 followed Davenport school busses for several days and caught two motorists breaking the law.

However the number of convictions in Eastern Iowa under Kadyn's law is low.

The Iowa Department of Transportation says on average, close to 1,000 school bus stop arm violators are reported to it each year.

Bus drivers in Davenport say they report about 100 drivers to the police each year themselves.

The total number of convictions from Maquoketa down to Fort Madison last year was only 109.

Durham School Services Manager Curtis Wheeler says it's an issue of awareness.

"You see drunk driving promotions out there, or click it or ticket, but you don't see a whole lot of stop arm."

Wheeler believes Kadyn's law is a good one. He's seen plenty of drivers passing school busses in his transportation jobs with school districts. He just thinks motorists aren't made aware of the law.

"You can fine people, increase fines, but if they're not aware of what those fines are, what those laws are, or what the safety risks are, I don't think it does as good as raising that awareness," says Wheeler.

TV-6 saw two drivers pass bus 82 as it dropped off a student at Third and Sturdevant. Wheeler says that driver sees it happen on a regular basis. His drivers turn in an average of 100 violators to police each year, yet there were only 25 convictions in Scott County last school year.

"We write up what we've observed, we send that down to the police department, from there we're pretty much out of the equation at that point, unless we get subpoenaed to testify," says Wheeler.

Part of the problem rests with how these cases are investigated. The bus driver needs to get as much information to the police department as possible for them to follow up on it successfully. What type of car passed them, what does the driver look like, what was the license plate number? Forms from successful cases show the level of detail that can help. The rest of the problem though, the driver has to gather this information while finishing their route.

"I know the law, I know what we need to do, and where it goes from there is beyond us," says Wheeler.

Some cases get dismissed in court. Plea deals and a lack of evidence knocked out 11 Scott County cases last year. Drivers can also appeal their suspensions to the Iowa DOT. Four did last year, but none were successful in getting their suspension overturned.

"You see the stop sign coming out, there it is, and they just fly right on by. My kids don't ride a school bus because I'm scared that could happen to my kid," says Davenport parent Nellie Jessop.

She wants the law to be tougher on younger drivers. She sees lots of violations near her home and her 17 year old son was convicted for passing a stopped school bus this spring.

"My son admitted, I wasn't paying attention, I feel that he's got everything that he's deserved to get," says Jessop.

Her son went to court, he was fined, and had to complete dozens of hours of community service. Jessop even sold the truck. She's using his experience as a lesson to her other children.

"We talk about it all the time, I have a 16 year old, that just started driving, same way with her, it takes one mess up, and anything can happen in a split second," says Jessop.

Her son's suspension just ended, but he will be forced to hold a restricted license for another year. Jessop says other drivers need to take his experience seriously.

"They don't feel that they should have to stop if they're on the opposite side, and it's the rule to all of us if you see a stop sign you stop," says Jessop.

"If the arms out and the lights are flashing, stop, it's just that simple, that may be your kid at another stop," says Wheeler.

Davenport's school busses have cameras on board, but they're designed to watch students in the bus.

They can help a driver identify a car passing a stop arm, but Wheeler says that's the limit to their usefulness.

There are cameras on the market that can be mounted directly to the stop arms.

Davenport does not have any busses equipped with that technology.

Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a law Tuesday allowing school districts to install automated camera systems on the busses to catch these violations.

There's only one situation where drivers can legally pass a stopped school bus. If the bus is stopped on a four lane road with traffic moving in both directions, the cars approaching the bus from the front, do not have to stop.

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