Senate Bill 2472 or Nathan’s Law was signed into law by then Governor Haley Barbour and went into effect on July 1, 2011. The legislation was named for Nathan Key, a 5-year-old who was killed in December 2009 when a vehicle illegally passed his school bus as he was unloading.
The following are major components of Nathan’s Law:
- Requires motorists to stop at least 10 feet from a school bus when the bus is loading or unloading children, and motorists must not proceed until all children have crossed the street to or from the school bus and the flashing red lights are no longer activated and the stop sign on the side of the bus is retracted.
- Authorizes a charge of felony assault and a prison sentence of up to 20 years for motorists convicted of illegally passing a school bus that, in the process, results in injury or death.
- Authorizes cameras be equipped on school bus stop arms to film perpetrators in the act.
- Required the development of at least 10 questions relating to school bus safety on a driver's license test.
- Established a School Bus Safety Task Force.
- Prohibits school bus drivers from using cell phones, wireless communication devices, vehicle navigation systems or "personal digital assistants" while operating the bus, except in an emergency.
- Increases the fine for passing a stopped school bus.