Brookland School Officials Frustrated Over Uneducated Motorists, Supportive Of Proposed Law Changes - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Brookland, AR -- Kathy Morris reports

Brookland School Officials Frustrated Over Uneducated Motorists, Supportive Of Proposed Law Changes

OCTOBER 13, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:00pm CDT

BROOKLAND, AR - Under current Arkansas law, the driver, who is accused of killing nine-year-old William "Isaac" Brian in Bryant last month, would have been charged with negligent homicide, a misdemeanor. Instead, 24-year-old Tiffany Nix was charged with manslaughter after a crime lab report showed opiates and amphetamines in her system. The fourth grader was crossing the street after getting off his school bus, and was hit and killed police said by Nix's vehicle.

Brookland School officials said none of their students have been hit, but they are worried it could happen. Drivers pass their stopped buses every day on Highway 49.

Bob Rahrle, who has been driving school buses for 20 years, said, "One of the little girls I let off earlier was very close to killed by a car that passed on the right."

Rahrle has seen vehicle drivers do many dangerous things. Buses being passed while students are loading or unloading scares him the most. That happened at least two times on Highway 49 during Bob Rahrle's route.

"Another thing that scares me of course is when kids do things that you don't expect them to do. They might turn around to pick up something they dropped," added Rahrle.

To try to prevent future bus accidents from happening, Arkansas leaders are making recommendations for law changes. Fines and criminal charges will likely be increased -- a move Brookland Schools Superintendent Gene Goza supports.

"People need to be made aware, and it seems like I guess when you get them in their pocket book, it wakes them up a little bit," Goza commented.

Currently drivers are required to stop in both directions if a school bus or church bus is stopped with red lights flashing. The only time you don't have to stop if you're traveling in the opposite direction is when you're driving on a divided highway.

"The law enforcement is spread too thin," added Goza. "If you look at how many buses run in Craighead County there's just no way that they can watch all of them."

As part of the proposed changes, state officials want to start running an ad campaign to teach motorists about the law regarding when it's safe to pass school buses with flashing red lights.

Rahrle explained, "If someone's confronted, they'll say, oh I didn't see you. I'm not sure how you miss a big yellow school bus with lots of lights flashing."

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