No to Kelsey’s law
April 12, 2005
In almost all cases, no one is less capable of writing a sensible law than a mother grieving over the senseless death of her daughter. A Spartanburg mother whose 9-year-old daughter was killed while crossing the street to board a school bus is no exception.
The mother must be comforted in every way possible and remembered in everyone’s prayers, but she is naturally and sadly misguided in her burning desire to change the state’s school bus laws.
On December 5, 2003, nine-year-old Kelsey Gossett was waiting for the school bus on Parris Bridge Road in Spartanburg at 6:30 a.m. As the bus prepared to stop on the two-lane road, Kelsey started across the street and a car driven by 29-year-old Jeremy Bevens began to pass the bus, which had not yet turned on its stop lights. Bevens’ car struck and killed Kelsey.
Soon thereafter, Kelsey’s mother, Kelley Simmons, began lobbying to change the school bus law, requiring buses to pick up children on both sides of the street so that no child ever has to cross the street to board a bus.
That is not a reasonable solution because it would require school districts to either run twice as many buses or make bus routes twice as long to comply with the law. If districts chose to make the bus routes longer, which most would to avoid the cost of doubling their bus fleet, children would have to ride the bus much longer. Many would have to be picked up much sooner, and would get home much later. Either way, there would be twice as many stops, creating twice as many opportunities for accidents.
Simmons did manage to get a lawmaker to sponsor her bill but, fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and it died in the legislature last year. This year, it has not moved at all, so Simmons is trying to restart her campaign.
Simmons believes she can use her daughter’s death to save other children, giving some meaning to the worst of all tragedies. It’s an understandable desire, but a bad proposal, fraught with pitfalls that Simmons can’t see because she’s blinded by grief.
Compassionate people will be patient with Simmons, but we can’t accommodate her ill-considered law, which she wants to call Kelsey’s Law. I’ve terribly sorry, Ms. Simmons, but the answer must be “no.”