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Parents, school district afraid as more drivers ignore school bus stop signs

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa (KWWL) – The New Hampton School District has seen an uptick in the number of the drivers not obeying the law when it comes to school buses.

So far this year, the district says they’ve had nearly double the number of stop arm violations compared to all of last school year. They’ve seen 11 total in just the first few weeks of school.

Five of those incidents have occurred on at the Zeien’s home just off of Highway 63.

“We were always nervous with the traffic,” said Tony Zeien. He and his wife, Katie, have 2 kids. Their oldest, 4 year-old Zoey, is just starting school.

A few weeks ago, Zeien, Zoey, and son, Owen, were waiting to cross the highway when Zeien realized a car driving towards them wasn’t going to stop.

“If I hadn’t been watching that day, we would have stepped out there,” said Zeien.

Last school year, the district had 6 stop arm violation. All of these offenders are caught on the bus’s camera system.

“Every time we have a drive-by, we notify the authorities. We turn it in,” said New Hampton School District Superintendent Jay Jurrens.

Each bus’s camera has films multiple views of the driver, their car, and their license plate. It also tracks their speed. Jurrens says he can’t be sure why there has been an increase in stop arm violations, but fears distracted driving could be to blame.

“I think we’re just not paying attention, and that’s really unfortunate, because it really is the safety of our students but also the safety of the person in the vehicle,” said Jurrens.

To prevent Zoey from having to cross a lane of traffic, father Tony spent roughly $500 to widen the driveway, so that the bus can pull in and turn around.

He also offered some advice for parents.

“Don’t just assume that a car’s going to stop, because if I would have assumed that one day, it would have been bad,” said Zeien.

In Iowa, the penalties for a stop arm violation are steep after the legislature unanimously passed Kadyn’s law in response to a 7 year-old girl who was struck and killed while trying to cross the road to get on the school bus.

A first offense of not stopping for a school bus carries a minimum fine of $250, up to 30 days in jail, and a 30-day license suspension.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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