INDIANAPOLIS (WNDU) - Calls for change in school bus safety laws are loud and clear at the Indiana Statehouse, fueled by the tragic deaths of three children as they boarded their school bus in Fulton County in October.
On Monday, lawmakers took the first steps to create new laws to prevent future bus stop tragedies.
On hand for this important day were the parents of the three victims. Brittany and Shane Ingle spoke exclusively with Newscenter 16’s Tricia Sloma Monday.
“We don't want any other family to go through what we're going through,” Brittany said. “Nobody should have to bury a child, let alone three children.”
For Brittany and Shane, the gravity of their loss weighs heavily every day, but on this day, their focus is strong, like MAXSTRONG: a powerful word that remembers their three incredible children.
“MAXSTRONG is Mason, Alivia and Xzavier, and we're strong for them and they're strong for every other kid,” Shane said.
MAXSTRONG is also the informal name for Senate Bill #2, filed Monday in Indianapolis. The author is State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport.
“I feel good about it. You never know 100 percent. You can never predict with 100 percent accuracy in the legislature, but a lot of people are aware of this problem,” Head said. “The family is working very hard to keep this issue in the public eye so that we can get this bill passed and no other family will have to go through what they're going through right now.”
Senator Randy Head’s bill calls for:
- Curbside drop-offs and pickups on Indiana highways to prevent children from crossing the road.
- Tougher penalties for violators
- The ability for school districts to petition for slower speeds in school zones
Future amendments will likely include:
- An emphasis on school bus traffic rules at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when renewing or getting a license
- Stop arm cameras
Over in the House, Rep. Jim Pressel’s distracted driving bill also includes stop arm cameras. Law enforcement will be able to track down people who drive through the stop arms.
“The goal is not to raise revenue; that's the farthest thing from my mind and, I think, everybody else's mind,” Pressel said. “It's to get people to recognize that stop arm and to stop.”
From the Democrats, South Bend's B. Pat Bauer wants to prevent children from crossing any road to get to a school bus.
“I have a bill also, which I’m willing to come behind and work with anyone to get done,” Bauer said. “I think it's ridiculous. Not ridiculous, there's a worse word than that … to have kids cross the street to get to the bus. They should pick them up on the side that they're on.”
No matter what side of the aisle lawmakers are on, the Ingle family is eager to get this process started.
“We’ll be here for everything we need to be here for. We'll make a difference. I'm pretty sure we're going to make a difference, and that gives us hope. That gives us a reason to get out of bed and the reason to keep going,” Shane said.
“And our kids will always be remembered. That's even better,” Brittany added. “Our kids are saving other kids' lives. Because my kids were amazing and compassionate, especially my daughter, Alivia. Helping others was a big thing. Now we're going to be saving others.”
The bills filed Monday now go to committee, where they could see some changes. But they are still expected to receive strong bipartisan support.
If you would like to support these measures, just contact your local representative or senator. To find a local legislator's contact information, visit Indiana's Find Your Legislator page.
Tricia Sloma has been following the progression of legislation and other action taken by members of the community to help improve school bus and bus stop safety since the tragic crash in late October.
You can read and view more installments of her Never Again series here:
- Never Again: Preventing bus stop tragedies
- North Liberty mom records bus stop violators in front of her house
- Alivia Stahl's dad: In his own words