Indiana lawmakers want cameras on school buses to catch stop arm violations

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After three siblings were killed while walking to their school bus on Tuesday morning in Rochester, lawmakers in Indiana are calling for change. Some legislators want cameras to be added to school buses in hopes of busting drivers for violating the "STOP" arm.

In 2015, State Representative Edmond Soliday (R-Valparaiso) authored House Bill 1404 that would have opened the door for more schools to add cameras on their buses to catch violations. It failed after several objections.

"One of the objections is that some communities would use this as a fundraising device and try to support the police department by over doing it," said State Representative Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis), co-author of House Bill 1404. "Some people were concerned about privacy."

Rep. DeLaney said the idea of cameras on school buses will probably be brought up again this year. As a grandfather, he was frightened by the tragedy in Rochester.

"It’s only right that we learn from accidents," he said. "The price is way too high. This is shocking. The thought that a child might get hit because we were not careful enough that was always there but this kind of an event was really beyond our imagination."

State Representative Milo Smith (R-Columbus) has been introducing similar legislation every year since 2014. His bill would have allowed a third party vendor to pay for the cameras. Revenue from fees would have been split between the third party and the school corporation. He really hoped this topic would be brought up again.

"There are over half a million incidents every year in the state of Indiana where someone runs a "STOP" arm," Rep. Smith (R-Columbus).

The Indiana Department of Education surveys violations for school corporations annually on a given day. On one day in April this year, 3,082 cars violated the "STOP" arm. 7,671 buses participated in the survey.

Lebanon Community School Corporation voluntarily added cameras to all of its 39 buses this school year. The district used money from its budget to pay for the technology. It cost them nearly $44,000 but a spokesperson said it is money well spent.

The school district said 13 tickets have been issued so far since August 9th. Each violation costs $235.

Lawmakers hope more schools can add cameras to their buses to deter drivers from violating the "STOP" arm.

"If we make too many people too cautious, is that bad? I think we need to do this," said Rep. DeLaney.

State Representative Mike Speedy (R-Franklin Township) is Vice Chairman on the House Roads & Transportation Committee. He said he will reevaluate the law and find out what needs to happen to have it reconsidered.

A Decatur Township mom was heartbroken to hear about the siblings in Rochester. She is thankful her son was spared at a bus stop last week. She said a driver went past a "STOP" arm on Thompson Road, drove over her son's foot and broke it. She wanted lawmakers to keep their promise and felt no price can be put on a child's safety.

"I don’t understand how it is more important to get to wherever you are going than to take the few extra minutes to wait and be patient," said Danylle Nealy.

Nealy asked the school district to change her son's bus route so he did not have to cross the street to get on or get off the bus. A spokesperson for the school district said they did make some adjustments on Thompson Road. He also added they will continue to review how they serve their students in Decatur Township.

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