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Fox 59 Investigates: Bus stop violators putting children in danger

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It’s happening far too often–drivers breaking the law and not stopping as kids get on the school bus.

This month, Fox 59 cameras went along for the ride, and what we found was pretty frightening.

“They just don’t care and they just drive right past the bus,” said Franklin Township parent Kimberly Ryker. “They only care about themselves. They don’t care about the kids.”

Ryker said she sees drivers go past the stop arms once or twice a week, and now she’s worried her children could get hurt. Her neighbor Becky Cook is worried, too.

“My worst fear is that one of our kids is going to get seriously hurt or killed,” said Cook.

Fox 59 asked several local districts how often it happened on their bus routes, requesting incident reports to see where it happened the most. School officials responded with several dozen reports, detailing incidents in which local drivers were caught driving past the stop arms.

So we went out to see for ourselves, and sure enough, Fox 59 cameras caught multiple violators in the act in the Hamilton Southeastern school district.

“There was one last week, coming right around us, cutting in between the bus and a car,” said Hamilton Southeastern transportation director Jim White. “Had there been somebody coming across, it could have been devastating.”

In recent months, Hamilton Southeastern bus drivers filed dozens of violation reports. In one incident, a woman was seen wearing her bathrobe as she drove past the lights and storm arms in Fishers. A U.S. postal truck was caught in a similar incident at Spyglass Ridge and Stone Bridge Court. One bus driver even caught a Comcast utility truck ignoring the stop arms near 96th and Allisonville, the same spot where we caught a driver going past the stop arms as kids were being dropped off after school.

White said he thinks citations and fines for the bus stop violations need to be increased.

“They need to get somebody’s attention because some of these people are totally oblivious,” White said. “I believe it is getting worse, it’s a growing problem not just here in Fishers or Hamilton County, it’s all over the nation.”

It’s also a problem in rural school districts, like North Putnam.

“I think it’s a little bit more noticeable in rural areas because there’s a lot of open road,” said North Putnam Superintendent Dan Noel. “I think sometimes we just aren’t conscious of what’s going on around us.

So what are the rules? If it’s a two-lane road, you have to stop in either direction. The same applies with a four-lane road, that`s undivided. But if there’s a median, only drivers behind the bus have to stop. Oncoming traffic doesn’t.

“Everybody’s in a rush to get somewhere and they’re in a hurry and they don’t want to be stuck behind that big yellow bus,” said bus driver Chuck Peacock.

“They’re going to end up getting killed,” said Ryker.

“Driver’s Ed 101 is you see a school bus, you stop when the school bus stops,” said Cook. “I just want people to be aware of that.”

“If you go around a bus, that should be the harshest traffic violation ever because you could kill a child,” said Ryker.