LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Officers from Troop J of the Mississippi Highway Patrol in Hattiesburg were out in force Tuesday morning looking for drivers who were passing stopped school busses.
Two motorists on Highway 98 East in Oak Grove were spotted by an officer in an unmarked car passing the same bus at the same time and were ticketed. A third person also went through but was not caught.
Nathan's Law was passed by the Mississippi Legislature in January as a way to tighten school bus safety and penalize those that break the law. It's named after 5 year old Nathan Key who died in 2009 when exiting a school bus. He was hit by a motorist who went around the stopped school bus. The law calls for increased penalties and fines. The fines can range from $500 to $5000 and a first offense can carry up to one year in jail and a 30 day license suspension. If a child is injured or death is involved it would be considered a felony and carry up to $5000 in fines and a prison sentence of up to five years.
Statistics show that 1 in every 2 school busses have drivers not stop while the bus is picking up or dropping off children on a daily basis across the country. Corporal Todd Miller of the Highway Patrol says people not stopping is becoming an increasing problem throughout the Pine Belt
"We're getting calls across our district about people passing stopped school while the bus is trying to stop for kids to load. It's just something we're trying to address and make a public safety awareness issue," said Miller. "You have to locate people breaking the law and issue citations."
Miller says they will continue the crackdown in hopes of raising the public's awareness on the dangers of passing a stopped school bus.