Bus safety, vision screening measures advance to full House

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Measures addressing school bus safety and vision tests for driver's licenses were both approved by the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday.


House Bill 189, sponsored by Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, would allow local school districts to address the problem of vehicles illegally passing school buses that are stopped to pick up or drop off children by attaching cameras to the bus stop arms to automatically record violators.


“There are numbers that tell us across the country that there are tens of thousands of violations by people passing a bus coming from the opposite direction or going around it while stopped loading or unloading kids,” he testified.  “If this should become law, we would join over 20 states with similar laws addressing this.”


Hale emphasized, “There is no cost to the district for this.” The cost of the cameras would be borne by the drivers who are fined.


The images of violators would be sent to the vendor, which would forward them to local law enforcement who could then issue a citation to the violator.


Local governments would set the fine schedule, which could be no more than $300 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent ones made during a three-year period. Any vehicle owner who does not pay the fine would be subject to having his vehicle registration suspended by the Transportation Cabinet.


Hale concluded his remarks by saying, “I certainly don’t, and I don’t think there is anyone sitting here today that has any sympathy for anyone who would illegally pass a stopped school bus, when there is loading and unloading of the most precious cargo there is, that would be our children and grandchildren.”


The measure passed and was sent to the House floor.


House Bill 439 would require everyone to undergo a vision test when renewing a driver’s license, not just when first obtaining a license, as is currently the case.


Its sponsor, Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, told the committee, “Forty-two states have a requirement for vision screenings for driver’s license renewals. Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia, which are all contiguous with Kentucky, require vision screening with the renewal of a driver’s license.”


Moser says she has worked closely with the state Transportation Cabinet on the bill, which wouldn’t take effect until 2024.


People could be screened when they apply for the license or present proof if they have had vision screening from a healthcare provider within a year of the renewal application.


She noted, if someone does not meet the vision requirements, “they will be referred to an optometrist, an ophthalmologist or other vision specialist.”


Moser says the Kentucky Medical Association and AAA support the bill, and since there is no age requirement, AARP has no opposition.


The measure also won committee approval and heads to the full House.

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