SALINE COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) -- More than a dozen years since the death of 9-year-old Issac Brian of Bryant, Saline County is renewing its annual crackdown on people who pass stopped school buses.
Issac's Law is named in his honor and stands as a warning to drivers to wait when those lights start flashing.
“Between all the school districts in the county our office receives roughly 15 to 20 reports a month,” said Luke Smith, the investigator for the 22nd Judicial Circuit over Saline County.
That's about one report per school day of someone passing a stopped school bus with their stop lights flashing. To combat that, prosecuting attorney Ken Cassidy is renewing “Project Crossing Guard.”
“The first couple of weeks my task will be to follow school buses throughout the county from the different school districts to simply look for drivers who run the stop signs and red lights on the school busses,” Smith said, pointing to his unmarked black SUV.
Anyone caught and convicted of passing a stopped bus is subject to a $385 fine, a mandatory 21-day license suspension and eight points on your driving record. To Smith all that is unnecessary.
“It's that sense of urgency of trying to get to the office on time, trying to get your kids to school on time that causes drivers to be inattentive,” said Smith. “They feel the need to pass that school bus instead of stopping and waiting for the kids to load.”
Busy, four-lane roads are no exception, and will be a focal point for law enforcement.
“Where we see the most infractions in our county are on the highways where the speeds are greater,” Smith said. “All the busses in this district are designed to flash their yellow lights well ahead of when they’re stopping. So if you see the yellow lights, assume they are going to stop. Don’t assume they already stopped at another intersection.”
To prepare for that first day, Smith offers advice.
“Leave home a little bit earlier. Add a little extra time in your day so that you're not felling that need to pass the school bus,” he said.
The big three law enforcement departments in the metro are preparing as well. Elementary schools will be a focus for Little Rock police. North Little Rock officers will be at each school while they get ready for the second year of traffic changes at North Little Rock High School, and Pulaski County deputies will be monitoring speed zones at the schools they cover.
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