KNOX COUNTY, (WTWO/WAWV) — Motorists are being reminded to be cautious when driving around schools and school buses as the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Vincennes Police Department will be increasing patrols.

As students return to school after spring break, local law enforcement wants to encourage residents to be mindful of the importance of driving safely in school zones. According to a post from the Vincennes Police Department, officers will increase their patrols to help prevent drivers from speeding, committing school bus stop-arm violations, and other reckless driving in school zones and around school buses.

Officers will work to prevent unsafe driving through high-visibility patrols both during morning commutes and in the afternoon hours.

Joining more than 200 other police agencies across Indiana, the Vincennes Police Department and Knox County Sheriff’s Office are now working to further the efforts of the Stop Arm Violation Enforcement campaign or the SAVE program.

“Our two biggest concerns this time of year are drivers not paying attention to the road and speeding,” said Lt. Bobby Kern. “Most of the stop-arm violations we encounter stem from those actions, and violators need to be held accountable. Help us keep kids safe by slowing down, putting away the distractions, and stopping for buses.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will fund the additional patrol time through grant funding provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

According to state officials, unsafe driving around school buses is a continuing concern despite thousands of drivers participating in the SAVE program. 

The post also notes an observation state survey in which thousands of violations were counted in a single day.

“Last year, 6,665 bus drivers across 195 school districts participated in a one-day observational survey that counted 2,041 stop-arm violations in Indiana. That one-day total, extrapolated for the entire school year, adds up to a potential 367,380 violations throughout the school year.”

Vincennes Police Department

It is illegal in every state for a motorist to pass a school bus when the stop arm is extended and lights are flashing. Failure to stop could lead to injury or death of children, their caretakers, or other pedestrians. Drivers must always come to a complete stop when a school bus stop arm is extended and the red lights are flashing.

Disregarding a school bus stop arm is a Class A Infraction. Those who ignore or break school bus stop-arm laws could pay a fine up to $10,000 and have their license suspended for up to 90 days during the first offense, or up to a year for further offenses.