Earlier this week, a hearing-impaired Memphis student was involved in a motor vehicle accident on his way to school. After a Memphis school bus driver turned on the bus’ red lights and put out the stop arm, the 13-year-old student walked over to board the bus. Before getting safely aboard, the student was struck by the distracted driver of a Jeep Cherokee, resulting in head injuries that sent the student to the hospital for treatment.
The Memphis bus accident led to charges against the driver for Failure to Maintain Control and Safe Lookout and Overtaking a School Bus. But is that enough? Are stricter penalties needed in order to keep Memphis school-age children safe when riding the school bus?
The death of a 5-year-old Laurel boy started the push for harsher penalties for drivers who ignore the flashing red lights of school buses and fail to stop for them in Mississippi. Nathan Key was involved in a fatal accident while trying to board the school bus in 2009. A driver disregarded the bus’ flashing lights and tried to pass the stopped school bus, hitting and killing Nathan.
Nathan’s Law was introduced to prevent similar accidents in Mississippi. Violators who overtake a school bus with red lights flashing can be fined between $350 to $1500 and may be sentenced to up to a year in jail. If the driver’s actions result in injury to a child, fines can increase to $5000 and up to 20 years in jail.
In the Memphis motor vehicle accident, the 18-year old driver was also on his way to school and said that he was distracted by issues with his contact lenses. Investigators said that neither alcohol nor speed was an issue in the crash.