HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. — More than 200 law enforcement agencies across Indiana are preparing to increase the number of patrols during school bus routes this spring.
The increase is all part of the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement program (SAVE), which takes place twice a year. The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and those funds are administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
Participating agencies say school bus stop arm violations are a big issue, and a survey conducted by the Department of Education proves it.
“There were over 2000, school bus stop arm violations in a single day,” said ICJI Executive Director Devon McDonald. “If there’s that many violations on a single day, just imagine how many are occurring throughout the course of a month or an entire school year.”
McDonald said it is incredibly dangerous to zip past a stopped school bus for so many reasons.
“If you’re passing on a county road or something like that, not only could you hit a child, but you could hit an oncoming vehicle,” he said.
Last spring, law enforcement issued around 1,400 citations during the program. Officers patrol during the morning and afternoon routes.
Among participating agencies, the Hamilton County Traffic Safety Partnership said it plans to be out in full force this spring. The partnership includes various law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County.
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan McClain said he has done the program before and has seen a difference.
“The kids know something is up, the parents know something is up, and the drivers are a little extra cautious and alert,” he said.
McClain said the effort is all about reminding drivers how to stay safe even when the police are not around.
“We’re hoping that a police presence, ticketing, or a stern, talking to as far as education goes, will prevent that in the future, even if the police car is not behind the school bus,” he said.
Law enforcement officials say to slow down, stay alert and never pass a stopped bus with flashing lights and an extended stop arm.
“Please just drive like your kids or loved ones are on that bus,” McClain said.
The program includes two operational periods starting from April 1 through April 30. The fall program runs during the month of August.