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It's back-to-school week in Sioux City, and elsewhere. School doors open for the new year in Sioux City on Thursday.

As students return to classes, let's all be cognizant of the increased potential for accidents produced by more vehicles and pedestrians near schools and apply increased caution to our driving. Let's all slow down, exercise care and do our part to keep our kids safe.

We again draw particular attention to the dangerous problem of drivers ignoring school bus stop arms. Whether it's due to sheer ignorance of the law or to distracted or careless driving, too many motorists ignore school bus stop signals and, as a result, put children at risk.

During the last school year, our district reported 94 violations of school bus stop arms to police.

Ninety-four potential tragedies.

Our hope is Kadyn's Law will, over time, result in a reduction of numbers like this one, across Iowa (the fact the number of local school bus stop arm violations actually increased in the first year of the law from the prior year is, however, troubling).

Passed in 2012, the legislation increased penalties for drivers in Iowa who do not heed school bus stop arms. Seven-year-old Kadyn Halverson was killed on May 10, 2011, when she was struck by a pickup truck while preparing to board her school bus in rural Northwood.

Under the law, drivers who pass the stop arm of a school bus face a penalty of up to $675, not more than 30 days in jail, or both for a first offense. Penalties increase for subsequent violations and for violations resulting in injury or death.

The message behind the law is simple and clear, and something we repeat in this space today: Slow down and practice caution near schools and school buses. Stop for a school bus when its stop arm is extended and its lights are flashing.

Before something terrible, perhaps deadly, occurs.

 

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