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Help keep ’em safe, watch for school buses | Local News | #schoolsaftey

Today is the first day of school for Vigo County School Corp. students, and school bus safety is very much on the minds of families, school officials and bus drivers.

School bus mechanic and driver Adam Eldridge starts one of the buses at the Vigo County School Corporation’s transportation facility in order to demonstrate the proper procedure for picking up students on Wednesday off of Maple Avenue.

This morning, 126 bus drivers will cover 410 square miles of Vigo County to transport more than 8,500 students to school, said John Newport, VCSC chief operating officer for facilities, food services and transportation.

Adam Eldridge, a VCSC bus mechanic and driver, is among those asking the community to be on the lookout for students getting on and off school buses.

“It’s watching out, keeping your eyes on the road and making sure you are paying attention,” Eldridge said. He treats students on a bus as if they’re his family.

Newport also asks drivers to be aware of flashing red lights and stop arms when students board a bus.

“We’d like to remind drivers that when the stop arm is extended, they must stop. It is state law,” he said.

Newport added, “We do have buses equipped with cameras that can record that violation and we can then turn that in to the proper authorities.”

Newport outlined when motorists must stop if a school bus has its red lights flashing and stop arm extended:


Indiana State Police provided this graphic regarding when to stop when a school bus extends its stop arm.

  • On a two-way street, all traffic needs to stop, both those behind the bus and those approaching the bus. Motorists must remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted.
  • For a four-lane road where this is no barrier or median separating lanes of travel, traffic in all four lanes needs to stop.
  • For a divided highway, such as if there is a grass or concrete median, only the vehicles on the same side of the road as the bus need to stop.

Stop arm violations tend to be a little higher at the start of school, although they occur all year long, Eldridge said.

“There are a few that kind of mistakenly either just don’t really see us or might be busy doing something else,” Eldridge said.

But kids’ safety is at stake.

“We really don’t like turning in the violations, but it’s just something we kind of have to do because it’s not a safe thing to pass a bus … if our stop arms are activated,” Eldridge said.

Bus drivers needed

Newport also addressed staffing. The district is always looking to hire additional substitute drivers.

This morning, VCSC will have eight open routes that will be filled by bus mechanics who have their commercial drivers license and substitute bus drivers.

It has six openings for bus drivers.

In some cases where there might be insufficient drivers, a route might have to be split, with half the students on one bus and the other half on another bus, which might cause both buses to run a little late, Newport said.

“We do the best we can to make sure everyone gets to school on time,” he said.

Bus drivers on regular routes are paid $105 per day, while additional trips are paid at a rate of $18 per hour.

Newport noted that VCSC school buses collectively travel about 8,000 miles per day. Multiplied by 180 school days, that is 1.4 million miles in a school year.

Statistically, “It is still the safest way for your child to travel to school,” he said.

The district has six mechanics that keep buses safe and well-maintained, Newport said. Indiana State Police conduct annual inspections.

Also, school bus drivers conduct pre-trip and post-trip inspections. They also recently attended a safety meeting.

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