INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana police agencies are planning additional patrols to crack down on motorists who pass stopped school buses as Hoosier students begin fall classes in a school year shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute announced Monday that it’s providing federal grant funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to more than 200 local police agencies to safeguard students as they board and leave school buses.
The institute contends that Hoosier school bus drivers witness more than 2,500 stop-arm violations a day, or an estimated 450,000 over the course of a school year, by motorists who fail to stop.
The institute’s executive director, Devon McDonald, said motorists should “always err on the side of caution when it comes to school bus safety.”
“The best way to think about it is to drive like it’s your child boarding or riding that bus,” McDonald said in a statement.
In Indiana, it’s illegal for motorists to pass a bus that’s stopped with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended on all roads, except for vehicles traveling in the opposite direction as the bus on multi-lane roads divided by a physical barrier or unpaved median, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said that motorists should pay attention on the road and drive cautiously near buses. He said “school bus safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
State lawmakers last year boosted the penalties for stop-arm violations following an October 2018 crash in Fulton County that killed three children boarding a school bus. Those changes include fines of up to $5,000 and a one-year driver’s license suspension for repeat offenders.