(UNDATED) – During a two-month campaign last year to promote safety around school buses, Indiana State Police troopers issued more than 2,700 tickets and 1,400 warnings for unsafe driving.
Forty police departments across Indiana during the first month of the 2019-2020 school year issued 435 tickets for bus stop-arm violations and 1,239 for speeding.
In 2019, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department issued 96 stop-arm violations citations.
Drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus can be charged with a class A misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail and a fine up to $5,000. If that action injures someone, the offense rises to a Class 6 felony, punishable by six months to two and a half years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Recklessly passing a school bus and killing someone is a Level 5 felony, carrying a one to a six-year prison sentence and up to a $10,000 in fines.
Lawmakers gave the courts the ability to suspend driving privileges for someone who violates the stop-arm law. Driving privileges can be suspended for 90 days or for up to one year for repeat offenders.
Districts where an elementary school has a bus stop on a state or federal highway would be required to stop on the same side as the child.
In Lawrence County, two school bus accidents were investigated by the Indiana State Police.
One accident was on John Williams Boulevard near X Street and the other was on State Road 158 near New Union Church.
The Putnamville State Police Post would like to pass along some safety tips to help make sure that this school year is safe for everyone!
Driving Safety Tips
- ALWAYS watch for stopped school buses in the morning hours and afternoon hours.
- Watch for children walking to and from school and waiting at bus stops.
- ALWAYS keep your eyes on the road and be patient driving behind school buses.
School Zone Driving Safety Tips
- Be on the lookout for school zone signals and ALWAYS obey the speed limits.
- When entering a school zone, be sure to slow down and obey all traffic laws.
- ALWAYS stop for school buses that are loading or unloading children.
- Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.
- Be aware of and watch out for children near schools, bus stops, sidewalks, in the streets, and in school parking lots.
- NEVER pass other vehicles while driving in a school zone.
- NEVER text while driving in a school zone.
- Avoid using a cell phone, unless it is completely hands-free, while driving in a school zone.
Walking to School Safety Tips
- Leave home early enough to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the start of school.
- Use the same route every day and never use shortcuts.
- Go straight home after school. Do not go anywhere else without permission.
- Always use public sidewalks and streets when walking to school.
- Try and walk to school with other students. There is strength in numbers.
- Teach your children to recognize and obey traffic signals and signs.
- Only cross streets at designated crosswalks.
- Always look both ways before crossing the street.
- Always walk and never run across intersections.
- Don’t talk to strangers. Teach your children to create distance between themselves and anyone who tries to approach or make contact with them.
- If a stranger does approach your child, make sure they know to immediately report the incident to you or a teacher.
- Teach your children to never get into a vehicle with anyone, even if they know them, without your permission.
School Bus Safety Tips
- Make it a habit of arriving at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled arrival of the bus.
- Make sure your child stays out of the street and avoids excessive horseplay while waiting for the school bus.
- Be sure the bus comes to a complete stop before getting on or off.
- When riding the bus, make sure your child understands they must remain seated and keep their head and arms inside the bus at all times.
- Do not shout or distract the driver.
- Always listen to the instructions of the bus driver.
Student Driver Safety Tips
- NO cell phones while driving.
- NO extra passengers.
- NO speeding.
- NO driving or riding without a seatbelt.
These are just a few safety tips for this upcoming school year. The Indiana State Police will have extra patrols during the school hours and will have a ZERO TOLERANCE for those who disregard a bus stop arm or speeding in school zones.