NEW HAVEN, Ind (WANE) — One Northeast Indiana school district is looking into the possibility of adding extended stop arms to buses after districts across the state received the green light from the attorney general.
Indiana’s attorney general announced Monday that the state’s school districts are free to use extended stop arms to prevent other vehicles from passing school buses.
Curtis Hill says in an official opinion that no federal or state laws prohibit the use of extended stop arms on school buses.
Dave Myers, Transportation Director at East Allen County Schools, said the district began looking into the possibility of adding extended stop arms to their buses last fall.
Regular school bus stop arms extend a stop sign roughly 18 inches from the bus. The extended arms range from 4 1/2 feet to 6 1/2 feet.
According to Myers, the extended stop arm could cost roughly $2,000. The district has about 150 buses in their fleet, however the do not plan to outfit all of the buses with them. Instead, they will focus on buses that travel problem routes.
“We would not at this point put them on every bus,” said Myers. “We would put them where we know [there are] trouble spots to try to help people to see our buses a little bit better. It all still is about educating our public.”
The length of the stop arm would be determined by the route the bus is traveling, Myers said. Buses traveling int he city would likely have a shorter arm than those traveling in rural areas.
“We don’t want to put a six foot arm in town where we have cars on both sides of our buses or going through some of our narrow streets,” he said. “That’s just asking for things to get hit. We want to be educated in how we use those arms.”
Krista Stockman, spokesperson for Fort Wayne Community Schools, told WANE 15 that the district is not considering using the extended stop arm. She said it would just be too costly. The district has 300 buses in their fleet and 250 buses on the road daily.
Josh Buhro, the Transportation Director at East Noble said investing in the extended stop arms would be an astronomical expense for their fleet of 55 buses. He is also concerned about the possibility of stop arms hitting other vehicles or property.
Officials at Northwest Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools could not be reached for comment.
The state bus safety committee will meet to develop rules and regulations regarding the stop arms.
Adam Baker, a spokesperson with the Department of Education, said ongoing discussions would likely continue over the next year. It is possible that Hooisers could see extended stop arms on buses as early as 2021, he said.
The use of the extended stop arms has been discussed following the deaths of three children last October in northern Indiana. The sibling were hit by a pickup truck while boarding a bus that had stopped and lowered its stop arm.