Officials: Please watch out for school bus safety | Local News | #schoolsaftey

Three months into the academic year, school bus stop arm violations and other transportation safety issues continue to be a concern for the Vigo County School Corp.

On Wednesday, district and city police representatives wanted to remind the public, and families, of those safety concerns and what they can do.

Since January, the district has had 78 reported stop arm violations, although there likely have been many more not captured on bus cameras.

“Unfortunately, it’s a fairly regular occurrence,” said John Newport, VCSC chief operating officer for facilities and transportation.

Sgt. Justin Sears, Terre Haute Police Department public information officer, talks about bus safety on Wednesday at the corporation’s bus garage.

It is against state law to pass a school bus with its stop arm extended.

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.

Violators can be cited and in more serious cases, they could face misdemeanor charges depending on the incident and if someone is injured, said Sgt. Justin Sears, public information officer with the Terre Haute Police Department.

“All that is designed with the safety of our kids in mind,” Sears said. “We don’t know where those kids are going to go when they get off the bus.”

Motorists need to use extra caution around school buses, he said. “I can’t think of a more precious cargo than what’s on the buses — the children.”

According to Newport, many buses are equipped with cameras that can record the violation, including license plates, and that video is then turned over to law enforcement.

“It’s out of our hands from there,” Newport said, although the district does track the number of stop arm violations and submits that data to the Indiana Department of Education.

He praised school bus drivers for their efforts to be attentive to surroundings and look out for the safety of students. “They will hold students back if they see an approaching vehicle that doesn’t appear to be stopping,” Newport said.

Another issue relates to student safety, especially around bus stops.

In one incident, students were playing at a bus stop and getting too close to traffic. In another instance, students were crossing the street in an unsafe manner with traffic.

Newport said it’s important for students to pay attention to their surroundings when waiting at a bus stop. They should stay 10 feet away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop.

Students should wait until the driver opens the door before they approach the bus. “You don’t want to approach the bus before that door is open,” Newport said.

Students also need to stay in their seats for the entire bus ride and pay attention to bus driver instructions.

According to Sears, parents/guardians should also teach children to stay out of school bus blind spots and not be right next to or cross directly in front of the bus where the driver may not be able to see them.

“Stand 10 feet back. Don’t run up to a moving bus,” Sears said.

If a child must cross in front of a bus, they need to make sure they are out far enough for a bus driver to see them.

School buses have several mirrors, but there are still blindspots.

Newport also said the district remains in need of school bus drivers, and those interested or wanting information can call the transportation office at 812-462-4341.

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