The Chesterton Police Department posted the following on its social media about an upcoming enforcement blitz towards school-bus stop-arm scofflaws:
As students head back to the classroom this month, the Porter County Traffic Safety Partnership (TSP) is reminding motorists to stop for school buses or face the consequences.
Porter County TSP is now increasing patrols to prevent stop-arm violations, speeding, and other forms of reckless driving around school buses and in school zones. The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
“When a school bus’s red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, drivers must come to a complete stop,” Hebron Police Chief Joshua Noel said. “This is not a suggestion—it’s the law.”
THE LAW WHEN THE SCHOOL BUS’ RED FLASHING LIGHTS ARE ACTIVATED AND THE STOP ARM EXTENDED
*ON TWO-LANE ROADWAYS: All motorists MUST stop.
*ON MULTI-LANE ROADWAYS WITH NO BARRIER BETWEEN LANES: All motorists MUST stop.
*ON MULTI-LANE ROADWAY WITH A GRASSY OR CONCRETE BARRIER: Only vehicles BEHIND the bus must stop. Vehicles approaching from the opposite side are NOT required to stop.
Despite thousands of motorists being cited under the SAVE (Stop Arm Violation Enforcement) program, unsafe driving around school buses continues to be a concern, according to state officials. In April, bus drivers participating in a one-day observational survey counted 2,091 stop-arm violations in Indiana. That one-day total, when multiplied by the number of school days, adds up to a potential 376,380 violations throughout the school year.
The data come from the National School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey, managed by the Indiana Department of Education. This year, data collection took place on April 25, with 6,665 bus drivers participating from 195 school districts.
“It is disheartening that we still have people who are willing to put the lives of students and bus drivers at risk,” ICJI Executive Director Devon McDonald said. “Law enforcement cannot be everywhere, so it is up to drivers to do the right thing and exercise caution around school buses. Students’ lives depend on it.”
During the enforcement period, officers will coordinate with local bus drivers and school transportation officials, with efforts concentrated in the morning and afternoon hours. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of school bus safety and following the law.
“Passing a stopped school bus is against the law and could have fatal consequences,” Noel noted. “Nothing is worth the risk. We need every driver to pay attention, because children’s lives are on the line.”
Disregarding a school bus stop arm is a Class A infraction, punishable by a fine of as much as $10,000 and a 90-day license suspension for a first offense (or a one-year suspension for a second).
If the person disregarding a school-bus stop-arm causes bodily injury to a person, the offense becomes a Class 6 felony, punishable by a term of six to 30 months. If someone is killed, the offense becomes a Class 5 felony, punishable by a term of one to six years.