DATE: Tuesday, August 18, 2020
SUBJECT: Law Enforcement Preparing for Students Returning to School
RELEASE NUMBER: 2020-NR-046
CONTACT: Colonel Noah Robinson
AUTHORITY: Sheriff Dave Wedding
The Sheriff’s Office and Evansville Police Department will be stepping up traffic enforcement around area schools and bus routes to help make sure this school year gets off to a safe start. All Vanderburgh County schools will be back in session for the 2020-2021 school year on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.
Once again local law enforcement has partnered with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) to help combat school bus stop arm violations. The SAVE program, which stands for Stop Arm Violation Enforcement, is designed to protect transportation routes to and from school by increasing enforcement of Indiana’s school bus stop arm laws.
Last year Indiana increased the penalty for recklessly disregarding a school bus stop arm from a Class B Misdemeanor to a Class A Misdemeanor. The offense becomes a Level 6 Felony if a child or other person is injured as a result.
According to ICJI, in 2019, thousands of bus drivers in Indiana participated in an annual survey and reported more than 2,500 stop-arm violations in a single day. Taking that one-day total as an average, that means an estimated 450,000 violations could have occurred during the 2019 school year.
Beginning on August 19, deputies and officers will be following school buses in both marked and unmarked vehicles looking for violations of Indiana’s school bus stop arm laws. Drivers who fail to pay attention and stop for a school bus stop arm will be cited for Disregarding a School Bus Stop Arm as a Class A Infraction. Drivers who intentionally drive around a stopped school bus with an extended stop arm face a more severe penalty and may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.
The beginning of school will result in a large number of buses on the road, children getting on and off those buses, new bus stop locations, new bus routes, congestion in and around the schools, new student drivers and many other factors to be aware of as our kids return to the classroom.
Sheriff Wedding explained, “We take the safety of every child very seriously. Stop-arm violations and dangerous driving in school zones put precious lives at risk. Our deputies will be patrolling all of our county school zones and watching for unsafe driving behavior.”
At some school locations, sheriff’s deputies will be assisting school personnel with traffic direction in and out of the school parking lots and drop off zones. The Vanderburgh County Highway Department has placed large school zone warning signs near schools to help warn drivers.
Resurrection Catholic School, Corpus Christi School and St. Joseph School are already in session. Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation schools begin on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.
Tips for back to school safety:
- Make sure your student is wearing a properly fitted mask so that their vision is not obstructed while entering and exiting the bus.
- If bus service is available, please utilize it.
- Please take pictures of your new student before you get to the school. Do not park in the drop-off zones of any of the schools to take your child into class.
- Utilize the proper restraint systems in your vehicle.
- Keep your speed to a minimum and pay extra attention in and around school zones and near school bus loading areas.
- When a school bus stops and a red stop arm or flashing red lights appear, children are boarding or exiting the bus. Be on the lookout for children crossing the street even after the bus has moved on.
- Please, no cell phone use in the school zones while operating a vehicle and no texting at any time while operating a vehicle.
- Encourage children getting on and off school buses to be very mindful of surrounding traffic, because the traffic may not be watching for them.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Do not let the frustration of running late compromise the good driving decisions you make.
- Please call 911 to report dangerous driving situations.
PICTURED ABOVE: Graphic depicting proper motorist actions when approaching a stopped school bus with deployed stop arm.
ABOUT THE SAVE PROGRAM
Launched in 2019, the Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program works to provide safe transportation routes for students going to and from school in Indiana. Grants are awarded to law enforcement agencies to conduct high visibility patrols along school bus stops and routes, which are identified by coordinating with local school corporations, bus drivers and other key officials. SAVE is funded by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.