Hamilton Southeastern Schools looks at ‘door side’ school bus stops to keep kids safe on busy roads

FISHERS, Ind. – Safety at the school bus stop is top of mind for parents across Indiana. It is something more are talking about after three siblings were killed while crossing the street in Rochester.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools wants to make sure kids do not walk in front of the school bus on very busy roads. It might mean the child is riding for a little longer but parents said it is worth it.

Elizabeth Griffin waited for her son, Patton, at his school bus stop after his first day of kindergarten last year. It was near the corner of 106th Street and Mollenkopf Road in Fall Creek Township.

“Gets super busy,” said Griffin. “At school drop-off time, there are a lot of cars going back and forth.”

While she and her family were waiting, they saw her son’s bus drive right past their house. Griffin said she panicked. The school bus came back 15 minutes later on the same side of the house after it turned around. The driver dropped off Patton so he didn’t have to walk across the busy street.

“It totally makes sense to me and I support him not having to cross a street,” she said.

The transportation department for Hamilton Southeastern Schools takes this very seriously. Using computer software called Versatrans, they work with their drivers to fix stops if they need to be on door side. The district said there are several others in the country who use this software too. Hamilton Southeastern Schools operates more than 300 buses for 19,000 students.

“We can’t control all of the environment but with our best resource being a driver behind the seat, doing a door side only, they can really control that environment,” said Zach McKinney, Director of Transportation with Hamilton Southeastern Schools.

For the stops that are door side, it means more time on the bus and possibly a higher cost. McKinney said they cannot put a price tag on a child’s safety.

“Obviously at the end of the day, safety is number one for us,” he said.

Griffin applauded the school district for taking on this initiative without her family even asking for it.

“Parents worry about their kids all day long and one less thing to worry about is really great,” she said.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools said they are doing whatever they can to keep kids safe. McKinney did urge drivers to do their part too and obey “STOP” arms to avoid another tragedy.