INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – Governor Eric Holcomb announced Monday that more than 200 law enforcement agencies will conduct extra patrols to safeguard students as they get on and off the bus this school year.
The overtime patrols are part of the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program developed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute in 2019. This program is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Officers will work with local schools and bus drivers to identify problem areas where the highest number of violations occur. The bus stops and routes that are identified will have police officers stationed who are looking for stop-arm violations and motorists driving dangerously.
“Police officers are stepping up their efforts to keep kids safe, but they can’t be in all places at all times,” Gov. Holcomb said. “School bus safety is everyone’s responsibility. That means paying attention to the road and driving cautiously when buses are around.”
In 2019, thousands of Indiana bus drivers participated in an annual survey that recorded more than 2,500 stop-arm violations in a single day.
It is against the law for motorists to pass a bus that is stopped and has its read lights flashing and a stop-arm extended in Indiana. This law applies to all road with the exception of multi-lane roads divided by a physical barrier or unpaved median. In this instance, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the bus may proceed with 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.”
State lawmakers passed legislation in 2019 that increases the penalty for stop-arm violations. Under the new law, motorists can have their license suspended for 90 days or up to one year, depending on the number of previously committed violations.
“We’re sending a clear message that driving with anything less than your full attention is unacceptable,” Gov. Holcomb said. “This is about preventing senseless crashes and making sure Hoosiers get from point A to B safely.”