"As drivers, we’re all responsible for school bus safety."
(Franklin/Riley Counties, Ind.) — The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and the Batesville and Brookville Police Departments are teaming up to safeguard students as they get on and off the bus this fall.
As part of Indiana's Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program, the Franklin/Ripley County Traffic Safety Partnership will offer overtime patrols to be positioned along bus stops and routes looking for stop-arm violations and motorists driving dangerously over the next couple of months.
Officers will work with local school corporations and bus drivers to identify problem areas where the highest number of violations occur.
“We take these violations very seriously and personally, as they jeopardize the safety of every child on that bus,” said partnership coordinator Sergeant Adam Henson. “Pay attention to the road, and if you see a bus with flashing yellow lights, that means slow down and get ready to stop—not go faster. As drivers, we’re all responsible for school bus safety.”
Last year, thousands of Indiana bus drivers participated in an annual survey and reported over 2,500 stop-arm violations in a single day, meaning an estimated 450,000 violations could have occurred during the 2019 school year.
It is against the law to pass a bus that's stopped and has its red lights flashing with the stop-arm extended. This applies to all roadways with one exception. On multi-lane roads divided by a physical barrier or unpaved median, vehicles traveling the opposite direction of the bus may proceed with due caution.
“Always err on the side of caution when it comes to school bus safety. If you’re not sure what to do, just stop,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “The best way to think about it is to drive like it’s your child boarding or riding that bus.”
NHTSA provides the following school bus safety tips:
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- Don’t drive distracted or impaired.
- Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
- Be prepared. Knowing how to drive when buses are around is critical.
- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
To learn more about agencies within the Franklin/Ripley County Traffic Safety Partnership, please visit the agencies on Facebook.