Local lawmaker wants to raise penalties for drivers who don’t stop for school buses

A Miami Valley lawmaker is striving for new legislation after News Center 7 reported last month on drivers failing to stop for school buses.

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State Rep. Niraj J. Antani, R-Miami Twp., held a press conference Tuesday to discuss his proposed bill that would raise penalties for drivers who don’t stop for school buses.

“We want drivers to know that this is unacceptable,” Antani said.

Antani’s legislation calls for three changes: raising fines for drivers who fail to stop from $500 to $1,000; $1 million in grant money to aid schools in acquiring cameras to capture license plates; and public outreach and graphics to remind drivers when to stop.

A Miamisburg mother said that drivers need to be reminded after she saw someone speeding in front of her children’s school in November.

“The bus stopped, and a car totally blew right through the bus stop sign,” Joanna Bentley told News Center 7’s Sean Cudahy. She said this occurs at least twice a month.

Bentley showed News Center 7 a video of the incident and voiced her concern.

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Antani saw her story and decided to take action.

“After I was made aware of this through the news media, I talked with some other parents in the area and, actually, other legislators across the state and found this is not just an issue in (Bentley’s) neighborhood, this is an issue in our community, this is an issue across our state, that there is an uptick of drivers not stopping for school buses,” Antani said.

Bentley couldn’t foresee a potential house bill or a press conference when she reported her frustrations in November.

“I had no idea that it would get this big,” Bentley said. “I just want cars to stop for my son’s bus.”

Miamisburg police also heard Bentley’s story and increased patrols in the area.

Bentley said she has noticed officers posted near the high school watching when her son gets on the bus.

Police ended up citing a woman on Nov. 29 for driving past the bus Bentley’s son was boarding.

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“My son got on the bus, the stop sign was still on. I look over and see a car coming and it wasn’t stopping. I see the cop pull up and get the person,” Bentley said. “It felt great seeing that someone did get caught and will be held accountable.”

Antani wants all drivers to be held accountable before a fatality occurs.

“We are trying to be preventative here,” Antani said. “I do not want to have to name this bill after, unfortunately, a child who is struck and killed by a driver who doesn’t stop for a school bus.”

Antani said the bill has a slim chance of passing, but he plans to refile a new one early next year.

In the meantime, Antani, Bentley and other concerned parents will continue to speak on the issue.

“I’m just a mom fighting for my children,” Bentley said.

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