One state representative wants to avoid tragedies like one that happened earlier this month when a young student was killed by a driver as she was crossing the road to get on her school bus. Rep. Lauren Daniel, R-Locust Grove, introduced House Bill 1284, which would increase the penalties for passing a school bus and encourage schools to pick up students on the right side of a road that has a speed limit of over 40 mph.

According to Daniel, House Bill 1284, or “Addy’s Law,” was named after eight-year-old Adalyn Pierce of Henry County who was killed earlier this month. Rep. Clint Crowe, R-Jackson, and Rep. Karen Mathiak, R-Griffin, are co-sponsors of the bill. Sen. Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville, is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate (SB 492).

“As a mother, I cannot imagine the immense amount of pain sweet Addy’s family is experiencing,” said Daniel. “After talking with her mother, I have dropped HB 1284 in an effort to prevent drivers from being reckless when near a school bus and to also hold them accountable when they are. I am hopeful this will bring awareness to the issue and that our community will continue to rally around this family during this difficult time.”

This legislation would require public school systems to consider bus routes that do not force students getting on a school bus to cross roadways with speed limits of 40 miles per hour or greater. Violators would be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor and given a fine of no less than $1,000 or confinement of no less than 12 months, or both, upon conviction, which would quadruple the fine associated with passing a school bus.

“HB 1284 would bring some relief to the family of Addy and their community as they grieve this tragic loss,” said Mathiak. “This common-sense legislation is necessary in protecting our young students and helping prevent more tragedies like this one. Children should feel safe crossing the street on their way to the bus. I urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to support this bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.”

The bill states that “Such violation shall be deemed noncriminal, and imposition of a civil penalty pursuant to this subsection shall not be deemed a conviction and shall not be made a part of the operating record of the person upon whom such liability is imposed, nor shall it be used for any insurance purposes in the provision of motor vehicle insurance coverage; provided, however, that upon any second or subsequent violation in the same jurisdiction, the law enforcement agency shall request insurance coverage information for such owner from the Department of Revenue and send notice of the violations to the insurance carrier of such owner.”

Lawmakers are also considering a bill that would change how school zone speed cameras operate. Rep. J. Collins, R-Villa Rica, filed legislation that requires that signs identifying the camera-enforced school zones include flashing yellow lights while enforcement is in effect. The legislation also proposes shortening the windows during which the cameras can operate to just 30 minutes before and after school begins and ends, unless the school property “is bisected by a highway.” In that citation, Collins said, the cameras would operate all day beginning an hour before school and ending an hour after.


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