ICJI: Police step up patrols to improve school bus safety

More than 200 police departments will participate in the spring enforcement campaign.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Across Indiana, state and local law enforcement will be fully deployed to ensure the safety of students as they travel to and from school. Over the next two months, officers will be positioned along bus routes and in school zones where they will be on high alert for stop-arms violations, speeding violations and violations. other forms of reckless driving.

Overtime patrols are part of the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program and are funded by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).

“School bus safety is a shared responsibility,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “By obeying the law and taking simple, yet necessary precautions, such as slowing down and driving without distraction, we can help ensure that every student arrives safely at their destination. »

More than 200 police departments will participate in the spring enforcement campaign, as part of an ongoing effort to prevent reckless driving in school zones and around buses. Last year alone, more than 2,700 drivers were cited for gun stop violations by Indiana law enforcement, according to the ICJI.

To address this issue, officers across the state will use a range of enforcement strategies, from high-visibility patrols to having police spotters on buses. In most jurisdictions, tactics and routes will be decided in coordination with local bus drivers and school transportation officials, with efforts focusing in the morning and afternoon.

“School buses have several highly visible indicators to tell drivers when to stop,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI’s executive director. “The only way to miss them, stop arm on and flashing lights, is if you’re on your phone or not paying attention to the road. This choice can be deadly.

As part of the campaign, state and local authorities will call on motorists to slow down, watch the road and never overtake a bus with flashing red lights and an extended stop arm. This applies to all roads with one exception. On highways separated by a physical barrier, such as a concrete wall or a grassy median strip, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the school bus should stop.

When approaching a school bus, it is also important to be prepared to stop. Plan ahead and allow extra time on each trip for school bus stops.

“You’ll never regret playing it safe, but you’ll regret overtaking a stopped bus and injuring someone’s child,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI’s road safety director. . “These are people who have their whole lives ahead of them. No haste is worth the possibility of depriving someone of their future or a family of their child.

Disregarding a school bus stop arm is a Class A offense and a serious offense. Offenders could pay a fine of up to $10,000, have their license suspended for up to 90 days (for the first offense) or up to 1 year (for the second).

Click here to learn more about the SAVE program or here for a list of school bus safety tips.

Toya J. Bell