At this time (6:40 AM) last Friday, there was only a hint of light in the sky. And, happening right that moment outside my door was a school bus picking up the neighbor's high school age son. He boarded the bus in the dark. This past Sunday was the end of Daylight Saving Time. (Side note: 'saving' without the 's' is correct - I know, it hurts my soul to say Daylight Saving Time too). We fell behind and this change eliminates more and more of our afternoon sun. What originally started as a way to save coal during WWI has followed us around, popping up like a bad politician for over 100 years. Sucks, I know. And I've always been one to say we should keep DST as our permanent time. But, my mind changed recently.

My daughter is in elementary school and until this year, I always drove her to the end of our neighborhood so the bus driver didn't have to come all the way down to our house to pick her up. But my husband and I decided that after MULTIPLE incidents of cars driving around the stopped school bus that clearly had its lights flashing and stop sign out that having her get on in the safety of our cul-de-sac was safer.

It's sad that people will just blatantly ignore the law prohibiting you from going around a stopped school bus but they do - a LOT. Even with harsher penalties for violators, it still happens.

A 2019 survey by the National Highway of Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the an estimated 17 million stop-arm violations occur each school year across the U.S. That's 95,319 stop-arm violations occurring in one day.

In 2019, though a new school bus safety law adopted by the Indiana General Assembly and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb increased penalties for illegally passing a stopped school bus in Indiana, which is generally considered a Class A misdemeanor (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-50-3-2). According to the law office of Craig Kelley & Faultless LLC, a conviction of illegally passing a stopped school bus in Indiana is now punishable by:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • 90 days of suspended driving privileges or up to one year for repeated offenses
  • Eight points assessed against the individual’s driving record.

If someone is injured by a driver who has illegally passed a stopped school bus, the crime is a Level 6 felony. Level 6 felonies are punishable by six months in jail to as much as two and a half years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-50-2-7).

If someone is killed by a driver who has illegally passed a stopped school bus, the crime is a Level 5 felony. Level 5 felonies are punishable by one to six years in prison (with an advisory sentence of three years), as well as a fine of up to $10,000. (Ind. Code Ann. § 35-50-2-6). 

And we all know tragedies do happen. Even though there are stricter penalties and new preventative measures to make sure kids don't have to cross in front of the bus, continuing Daylight Saving time would put thousands of kids at risk who have to board the bus in the dark - reducing visibility and increasing the chances of a violator accidentally hitting them.

So, look... I get it. Losing an hour in the afternoon sucks but if it can save one kid's life - it's worth it.

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