School bus safety push at state capitol - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

School bus safety push at state capitol

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It wasn't your typical school bus stop Wednesday morning as children went from the bus steps to the steps of the state capitol, joining state leaders and bus safety advocates.

"It is up to us, incumbent upon all of us to have that shared responsibility for these children," said Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant.

In preparation of National School Bus Safety Week, the forces behind a state law, known as Nathan's Law, are hoping to send a message across the state.

"It seems as if a tragedy often has to occur before we become aware of the dangers," said Bryant.

Tragedy is what spurred the law, named after five year old Nathan Key who died when he was ran over after stepping off of his school bus in front of his home in Jones County back in December of 2009.

Since his death, his parents, Andy and Lori, set out to change state law, and did, but they're not stopping there.

"As long as there are still children getting injured getting on and off school buses, there's work to be done," said Andy Key.

They both now sit on the state's school bus safety task force chaired by Lamar County Schools Superintendent Ben Burnett.

"Most people aren't aware that there's a new tougher law," said Burnett.

The law created stiffer penalties for anyone caught passing a stopped school bus and even created the task force which will make additional safety proposals to be presented to the legislature in January. 

"When you see a school bus, you see this state's future," said Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz.

The Department of Public Safety is even revising state driver's license testing to make sure new drivers are aware of the law. To teach children, bus drivers and the public, an educational campaign is set to be launched by the Department of Education.

"Fortunately we'll never know how many lives it saves, but I think it will be good for our children for decades to come in the state of Mississippi.

"We're making huge steps. Unfortunately, as a father, it feels like little steps," said Key.

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