Two U.S. legislators representing Indiana want federal laws that would standardize penalties for drivers who ignore school bus stop arms.

U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, and U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd District, were inspired to fight for a federal review of school bus safety laws after three children were killed by a driver who ignored an extended stop arm and struck them in Rochester last year, they said.

The accident happened in Walorski’s district, and she wants the tragedy to be a catalyst for national action, she said.

“It’s unbelievable. There’s so much blatant disregard for school bus laws. The arms were out, the lights were on. It’s a tragedy I hope no one experiences,” Walorski said.

“When you get behind the wheel, every driver needs to be cautious. Never pass when the lights are flashing and the arm is extended.”

The Stop for School Buses Act will appear in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives pending a review by the Committee of Transportation Infrastructure. Both Young and Walorski believe they have enough bipartisan support to pass the bill and send it to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into federal law, they said.

The bill would allow the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to conduct a study of state laws and practices, after which the two lawmakers would craft a second bill, using those findings to suggest a national standard for school bus safety and penalties for drivers who break the law, Walorski said.

The entire process should be complete within one to two years, she said.

Indiana has already taken action when it comes to school bus safety. In May, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 2 into law. The law, which takes effect July 1, increases the penalty from a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony for drivers who recklessly pass a school bus while its stop arm is extended. Courts can also suspend the driver’s license of someone who violates the law for 90 days. For a driver who has a previous violation on their record, that penalty increases to one year.

The law bans school bus drivers from making children cross a U.S. or state road to board a bus unless there are no other safe alternatives. The law also requires the Indiana Department of Transportation to post school bus safety guidelines on its website.

Drivers pass stopped school buses routinely, according to data from the department of transportation, which asks school bus drivers to keep a tally of drivers who violate the law one day each year.

On that day in 2018, 7,740 buses participated, counting 3,104 violations. In Johnson County, 245 drivers participated, noting 71 violations.

Despite stiffened penalties, school bus drivers still need to give police license plate numbers in order for drivers who break the law to face consequences. Rochester schools are already using stop arm cameras in order to capture footage of drivers who pass their buses while they’re stopped. Schools in Johnson County have not yet added the cameras on school bus stop arms.

Federal legislation will provide peace of mind for parents who send their children to school on the bus, Young said.

“We concluded it’s time to act more seriously and boldly to address this issue,” Young said. “It’s something that’s every parent’s nightmare, sending our children off to school on what we believe are safe school buses and we charge others with the safety of our children. My heart breaks for those in Rochester and we can’t allow it to happen again.”