Study: Kadyn's Law Being Undermined

Posted at: 01/07/2013 6:48 PM
Updated at: 01/07/2013 6:50 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's one of the legacies of a seven year old Northwood, Iowa girl. A law, designed to protect other children.

But a new study finds a gap between "intent" and "practice".

“Iowa has always been or had one of the lesser penalties for going through the stop arms," said Saint Ansgar schools transportation director Dave Juhl.

Within months of the day in May 2011 when 7 year old Kadyn Halverson was struck by a pick-up truck and killed as she was crossing the road to get on her school bus, Iowa lawmakers voted to change that.

"There was no opposition. I think it passed unanimously," the St. Ansgar school district’s Dave Juhl told us.

It was known as Kadyn's law, and it raised the fine for violating stop arm laws to a minimum of $250.

"The law was passed in March and we looked at convictions between August 15th and October 31st," said Iowa State University researcher Neal Hawkins.

But when ISU did a comprehensive study on school bus safety ...

"We looked at the fines because obviously that's what Kadyn's Law did is change the fine structure for violators," Neal Hawkins explained.

It found that 65% of those violators were not assessed the higher fine.

"It's kind of defeating the purpose of passing this law when judges are only leveling as low as a $60 fine when the previous fine was $130," said the St. Ansgar school district’s Dave Juhl.

"Over time there should be judicial outreach to help move that toward what the law actually says for these violators," ISU researcher Neal Hawkins told us.

“I can't see where the judges and the magistrates didn't receive that message, either. This is something that lawmakers and the people of Iowa want to happen," transportation manager Dave Juhl said. “I think we're not using the law to its fullest extent to protect the children."