Stop or be stopped.
That is the warning from Fort Wayne Police to drivers who pass stopped school buses.
Officers were on watch at the entrance of the Canterbury Green Apartment Complex Monday morning. It’s a place school bus drivers say they see a lot of people ignorning their stop arms and flashing lights, putting students at risk.
Indiana state law requires drivers to stop if a school bus has its stop arm extended and red lights flashing.
Officers caught at least six people who violated bus stop protocols on Monday. According to police, they were able to stop almost all of them and gave them a ticket.
The Fort Wayne Police Department is focusing on these violations this month as part of a “Traffic Enforcement Campaign.”
“Primary enforcement efforts will run from today to the 22nd,” said Lt. Tony Maze with Fort Wayne Police. “We’ve got people out Monday through Friday. Some in the mornings, some in the evenings.”
The six drivers ticketed give a glimpse of a bigger problem.
“On any given day we have as many as 250 violations throughout the county and over 150 of those take place here in Fort Wayne,” said Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman.
Several school districts in the state have added cameras on their buses to help address the issue. However, Stockman said while cameras would catch drivers in the act, they wont’ help enforce the law.
“In order for someone to be prosecuted for violating a stop arm, police have to witness it and write a ticket,” Stockman explained. “So even if we have cameras, we can’t then go back and say okay, write this person a ticket.”
State legislators are currently discussing a bill that would increase penalties for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus. For now, police want people to know – they are watching.
“I don’t want anybody to get complacent thinking okay, they are just out in the mornings doing this. We’ll be out for the after school drop off periods too,” Maze added.
In Allen County stop arm violations cost $335 after court costs.