VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Kids across the Wabash Valley are getting ready to head back to class and that means more school buses back on our roadways.
The Vigo County Sheriff’s Office will increase patrols for back to school.
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, school buses are the safest vehicles on the road. In fact, the institute said students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking the bus instead of traveling by car. That’s because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road. Even though they are protected from other motorists by law, violations still happen.
“In the beginning there’s more violations than there is for the rest of the school year, just because people aren’t accustomed to seeing the buses,” Steve Meng, Chief Deputy with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office said.
The law requires drivers to stop when a school bus stops to pick up or drop off students when it’s flashing red lights and stop arm are activated.
“We get a lot of complaints on stop arm violations,” Meng said.
Meng said he believes some motorists are confused on when they need to stop. “If it’s a two-lane road, obviously, both directions have to stop. But I think people get confused when it’s a four-lane road, such as U.S. 41 down south. If there’s a barrier, like a grass median or a concrete median, if you’re on the side with the bus, you have to stop behind the bus. But the other traffic going the other direction does not. But like on US 40 in the Seelyville area, that’s where we receive a lot of complaints, you have to stop both directions because there is no barrier there is no median.”
While law enforcement across the state will step up enforcement to help ensure students get to school safely, cameras will help some corporations keep an extra watch.
“Vigo County School Corporation buses are all equipped with outside cameras. So, if you are a violator of the stop arm, you can be ticketed at a later time, even if law enforcement doesn’t get you right then,” Meng said.
Disregarding a school bus stop arm is a Class A Infraction. Violators could be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and have their license suspended for up to 90 days for the first offense. Suspended up to one year for the second offense. If the person disregarding a school bus stop arm causes bodily injury, the offense becomes a level 6 felony. If someone is killed the offense becomes a level 5 felony. Both carrying strict sentences.
Children’s lives are online. Slow down, be alert and be safe.