CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. - School bus drivers statewide reported more than 1,200 drivers who illegally passed a bus while it was stopped last year. Now Indiana State Police are stepping up patrols to crack down on violators.
"All it takes is one student getting hurt and then the 'what ifs' start."
What if a child gets hit by a car while he or she is getting off the bus? What if a car crashes into a school bus full of children? These are all the "what ifs" Indiana State Police are trying to prevent.
Troopers are collaborating with Clinton Prairie School Corporation to crack down on drivers who don't stop for school buses picking up or dropping off kids.
Director of Transportation Amanda Whitlock said State Road 39 has been a recent hot spot for school bus drivers to report a stop arm violator.
"When you're used to, over the summer, flying from Frankfort to Lebanon and all of sudden a school bus is right there, stopping, then we have some problems," said Whitlock.
Whitlock said on average at least one district bus driver a week will report a stop arm violation to her.
Sergeant Kim Riley said State Police are working to bring that number down. He said troopers will be patrolling heavily traveled areas where school buses stop.
He said if drivers don't stop when the lights are flashing red and the stop arm comes out, they will be pulled over.
"It's a Class A Infraction, which is up to a $1,000 fine if caught and convicted," said Riley.
Whitlock said Clinton Prairie is determined to help State Police. She said the bus with the most reports of violations will be getting a camera to catch drivers in the act.
"That will record any license plates, the time of day and the speed of the driver who ran the stop arm so we can follow up with our State Police," said Whitlock.
State Police followed behind a school bus Wednesday afternoon. No violators were found but Sgt. Riley said he hopes the effort will raise awareness. It may seem like a simple law but officials say it could save a child's life.
Sgt. Riley said drivers need to be prepared to stop for school buses from around 6:30 to 8 a.m. in and from 2 to 4:30 p.m. He said state troopers will out patrolling during those times.
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