The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 29, 2021 1:00 am

Police targeting stop-arm violators

Statewide campaign to enforce safety around school buses

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Don't be surprised to see increased police patrols once students return to classrooms this fall.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday police will be out in greater numbers to watch for school bus stop-arm violations and dangerous driving near school bus stops and in school zones.

“We're entering back-to-school season in Indiana, which means motorists need to watch for buses and drive cautiously at all times,” Holcomb said in a statement. “School buses remain the safest mode of transportation for students, and we need everyone's help to keep it that way.”

The extra patrols are part of Indiana's SAVE blitz, which stands for Stop Arm Violation Enforcement. The program is supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, according to a news release.

More than 200 police agencies will participate in the effort, which is set to end in mid-September, the release said.

Bus drivers and school transportation officials will help police identify areas where patrols are most needed, the release said.

In Indiana, it's illegal for drivers to pass a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended. This applies to all roads except for motorists on a highway that is divided by a barrier, such as a concrete wall or grassy median. They are required to stop only if they are traveling in the same direction as the bus.

A spring enforcement period netted more than 5,600 citations, including 251 for stop-arm violations, 309 for texting while driving and almost 1,900 for speeding, the release said. About 1,700 warnings also were issued.

“Speeding around a bus or ignoring its stop-arm is not only illegal, it's reckless,” Devon McDonald of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute said in a statement. “It puts everyone on the road at risk, including children, and has to stop – too much is at stake.”

Allen County school districts two years ago launched a public service campaign targeting the widespread problem of drivers illegally passing school buses. At that time, the districts said the behavior happened almost 200 times each school day in Allen County.

The “Slow. Stop. Stay.” campaign tells drivers to slow down when a bus's yellow lights are flashing; stop when red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended; and stay put until the lights stop flashing and children are out of the way.

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