where traffic can back up
quickly, or that some won't stop at all. The law
means motorists will be stopping much more
frequently. Motorists may get confused and impatient
because they have to stop in both directions on some
roads but not others, and they may not always see
children crossing when the red lights flash.
School Bus Transportation
Directors throughtout the state have expressed concern that
motorists will likely get the piture that children aren't
crossing anymore. It is feared that motorists will think that
there is no reason to stop. That impatience could put the
children in danger if motorists decide to go ahead and pass the
bus right into the path of a child and/or bus driver who are
crossing the street.
The new law was in response to the 1994 death of a 7-year old
Tommy Lanni Jr. in Southern California. The little boy was
struck and killed by a pickup truck as he crossed the street
after getting off a school bus. The bus driver didn't know that
Tommy would try to cross the street and didn't activate the bus'
red flashing lights.
Assemblyman Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside, authored the bill and
said he wanted to prevent that kind of accident from occuring
again. "When I've been out driving I've come to a school bus
stopped without lights flashing, I remember experiencing
uncertainty. Am I suppose to go? Am I suppose to stop?" he said.
"We need to get the uncertainty out of the law in every
instance." It is noteworthy that Assembly Bill 1297 unanimously
passed both the State Assembly and State Senate.
During the month of December, 1997, the California Highway
Patrol intitiated a public information campaign to educate
motorists about the new law. There will certainly be much more
discussion about Assembly Bill 1297 and its effect on motorists
and highway safety.