HENRY COUNTY, Ind.– Two Henry County bus drivers are taking safety measures into their own hands. They say keeping students safe when getting on and off the school bus is a serious issue that can never be brought up enough.
Ron and Linda Chew want every school bus to be as safe as can be and their hope is that their new purchase will be another step in that direction. The husband and wife duo are both bus drivers. Ron just started his 40th year driving, and Linda is celebrating her 37th year.
This week is National School Bus Safety Week, so the couple wants their message heard loud and clear.
“It’s like, what part do you not see? We’ve got all of these extra lights on, we’ve got LED lights, there’s no way they cannot see us, but they’re not looking at us,” explained Linda.
“There’s been a growing concern nationwide,” Ron added.
The Chews care so much that they recently purchased a new school bus with seat belts and a stop arm camera for $101,000.
“This is a contracted route which the drivers bid on those routes. The school corporation specified that they wanted a school bus with seat belts and stop arm camera on it,” Ron said.
Ron is also the President of the Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association. He says student safety is top priority.
“I don’t know what it is, they can’t seem to see a school bus with flashing red lights, a stop arm,” said Ron.
The camera allows drivers like Linda to catch the license plates of drivers who are ignoring the stop arm.
“I take care of them like they’re my kids and I want them to be safe and we care about them,” she said.
The Henry County Prosecutor’s Office confirms there are three pending cases for drivers allegedly breaking the school bus stop arm law. However, Chew says the penalties aren’t stopping people from putting kids in danger.
“Five or six people run my arm. I just kept calling in, I got another one, I got another one,” said Linda. “It’s unbelievable how many times they go and I time stamp it like I’m supposed to but sometimes we get them and sometimes we don’t.”
Along with the stop arm camera, the seat belts are an added benefit. The Chews say behavioral problems have dropped, allowing them to drive without distractions.
“When talking to numerous drivers and my wife in particular, it seems to eliminate some problems that I hadn’t really thought were a real problem,” said Ron.
Taking the extra effort for safety, the Chews say now it’s up to the drivers to take notice.
Earlier this year, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) sent out a survey to school bus drivers. On April 23rd alone, bus drivers tailed 2,530 violations.
The school bus safety law states that courts can suspend your license if you commit a school bus stop arm infraction. You could also face time in jail and a $5,000 fine.