School bus safety crackdown - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

School bus safety crackdown

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SIMPSON COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

     Less than one week after Richland ten year-old Allen Lutrick was hit and killed after getting off on his school bus, state troopers say they want to make sure drivers pay close attention when driving near a bus. Troopers say you can expect to see more of them on the road, so they want you to beware.

 State troopers on motorcycles escorted this Simpson County school bus along Highway 469 Monday morning. It's a route known for lots of speeders and school bus safety law violators, and that's something bus driver, Bonnie Ward knows a lot about.

Ward says, "you do have violators that are in a hurry and they for one reason or another when they see the flashing lights they sometimes don't heed to them."

 Last Tuesday, 82 year-old Raymond Watts became one of those school bus safety law violators. Watts struck ten year-old Allen Lutrick as he was getting on his school bus. Lutrick died from his injuries and was laid to rest Sunday. Consequently, Mississippi Highway patrol officers want drivers to always be on guard near a bus.

 "You never know whose watching we'll be out there and the thing is we want people to know we're out there," says Corporal Odis Easterling, the Public Information Officer for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

 No drivers were caught passing the school bus stop sign or cross guard during Monday's trip to school. However, within a matter of minutes, several drivers were caught speeding, which is a major factor when it comes to safety when school buses are present.

Corporal Easterling says, "when they're speeding mixed with not paying attention it's so much easier to come up on a stopped school bus and by that time the reaction time is just a bit too late."

 Ward says she's seen some close calls on her route. She says a first grader nearly got hit more than once. "The first time she almost got hit, I mean it was just a body's length away," says Ward.

Ward believes that last week's fatal bus accident has made a difference in the way that drivers are driving around her school bus. She says that since the accident she's noticed that drivers are more cautious."They're like way back where they used to come closer they stop way back now," says Ward.

 Under Nathan's Law $750 dollars is the amount you'll pay for a first offense for violating school bus safety laws.  A second offense within five years will cost you up to $1,500. The penalties go up from there.

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