WHITESTOWN, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Education said a statewide survey by school bus drivers shows an alarming number of people are ignoring the bus stop arm and blowing right by.
A little more than half the districts in the state took part in the survey, and nearly all of the numbers are in. On April 23 alone, bus drivers tallied 2,530 violations. If you multiply that number by 180 school days, it equals 455,400 violations for the school year.
“Five seconds to delay your trip home, or your trip to work, or your trip to the store, that’s always worth a kid’s life,” Whitestown police Sgt. John Jurkash said.
Whitestown PD put out a public service announcement at the start of the school year to warn drivers to stop when a school bus is stopped. Sgt. Jurkash said the department received a boost in calls from people reporting drivers who failed to stop. The police department also increased patrols in the morning.
“We tasked our officers to actually follow around buses in the morning, and if we saw violations, we were stopping vehicles and trying to hit them with as many fines and infractions as we can find,” Sgt. Jurkash said.
If a school bus stop arm is out, drivers on both sides of the road are required to stop unless there is a barrier in the road.
“I really believe that some people believe that where they have to go or whether they need to get to work, whatever is going on in their life, is more important than stopping for a few seconds to make sure a kid gets across the street,” Sgt. Jurkash said.
Senator Todd Young is proposing a bi-partisan bill in the Senate that would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to review bus passing laws in every state, as well as drivers education materials, best practices, and counter measures.
“Our children don’t care whether we are Republicans or Democrats, our children are just trying to get to school safely so they can get an education,” Senator Young said.
He and his colleagues will continue to sign up co-sponsors for the bill in the Senate and House. They hope to vote on the legislation in the coming weeks or months.