The West Virginia Legislature strengthened the law earlier this year with the adoption of legislation dubbed “Haven’s Law,” named for 6-year-old Haven McCarthy, who was killed in 2007 when she was hit by a car moments after getting off the school bus in Lincoln County. The motorist, who pleaded guilty to negligent homicide for illegally driving around a school bus, was fined $50 for the misdemeanor and placed on home confinement for one year.
Under the new law, drivers who fail to stop when a school bus stops and flashes its warning lights now could be charged with a felony. A driver who causes an injury could face up to three years in prison; a driver who kills someone could be put in prison for up to ten years. The law also increases fines for drivers who violate the school bus safety laws, and introduces the potential for drivers to lose their license.
“One bus-related death is one too many,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “We all must be mindful of children crossing the road or getting on or off of a school bus, particularly at this time of year. The safety of our children must always be our No. 1 priority.”
West Virginia school buses travel more than 41 million miles each year, transporting about 230,000 students each day to school safely and reliably. Across the country, school buses provide more than 10 billion passenger trips each year.