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Indiana lawmaker wants current railroad crossing law to remain the same

WSBT 22

Just moments before the deadly bus crash on U.S. 31 that resulted in the death of a 13-year-old student Wednesday, the bus driver was following the law by coming to a complete stop at the railroad crossing.

It’s a busy highway, where traffic is moving more than 60 miles an hour, but a local lawmaker says this law is still a good idea.

We spoke with one of the state senators from Marshall County.

He says the law needs to stay as it is. It was put in place to protect trucks and buses from being hit by a train.

Without it, he says that could happen. He says the issue goes beyond just the laws.

Chances are, you've probably had to stop for a train, or you've been stopped behind a bus or truck at a railroad crossing.

It’s because Indiana state law says buses and vehicles carrying flammable material must stop between 15 and 50 feet from the nearest railroad tracks before proceeding.

“It's to ensure the bus driver knows regardless of what the crossing signals say, the train is definitely not coming before they cross those tracks and subject those kids to loss of life,” said Randy Head, IN Senator District 18.

It all stems back to 1938, when a school bus carrying 39 students crashed head-on with a 50-car freight train during a blizzard.

25 of those kids died, which prompted lawmakers to seek change.

But while stopping at the railroad crossing, the school bus in Marshall County was rear ended by a flatbed truck behind it.

“Our hearts definitely go out to all of the parents and all of the children who were on the bus and to the entire community,” said Head.

Senator Randy Head says he wants the law to remain in place. He says eradicating the law could cause future accidents between a train and a bus.

“I think the law is where it ought to be and we don't want buses pulling on the railroad tracks in front of trains,” said Head.

This is the second bus tragedy in the last two months for the area. The first one involved an SUV killing three kids who were getting on their bus.

Head urges all drivers to be more careful around school buses.

“If the first tragedy didn't send that message, surely two in such close proximity would do that,” said Head.

We spoke to a school bus driver tonight who told me he's concerned anytime he has to stop at that crossing.

He says he's worried that traffic travelling so fast won't be able to stop in time to avoid an accident.

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