As Summer recess comes to a close, it’s time for children throughout Marshall County to head back to school. That means, once again, school buses and school bus stops will be a part of all of our daily commutes.
With school starting, Prosecuting Attorney Nelson Chipman reminds everyone to slow down upon sight of a school bus and school bus stops. The law requires drivers to stop when the school bus stop arm is extended, and the red lights are flashing. Unfortunately, school bus stop-arm violations are all too common in Indiana and can lead to fatal results.
Last April, the Indiana Department of Education did a one-day survey with thousands of bus drivers from across the state participating. For one day, 6,665 bus drivers from 195 school districts took part in an observational survey where the drivers counted stop-arm violations throughout the day. In just one day, the drivers recorded 2,041 violations.
Ignoring school bus stop-arms is not only against the law, but it can also be deadly. Several school-age children lost their lives during the 2021-22 school year due to negligent and reckless drivers.
“There’s no excuse for ignoring school bus stop-arms,” Chipman said. “Kids must be able to get to school safely. Slow down and stop when you see buses on the road. Our office pledges to prosecute reported violators.”
Disregarding a school bus stop-arm is a Class A Infraction, which could result in a fine not to exceed $10,000, plus court costs and a driver’s license suspension. This can also result in an increase in automobile insurance once the carrier becomes aware of the judgment. To recklessly pass a stop-arm is a Class A Misdemeanor, which could result in a term of incarceration plus a hefty fine and a driver’s license suspension. Additional incarceration at higher felony levels may result if injuries or death occur because of the reckless passing.
Chipman emphasized none of those penalties come into play if caution is exercised and each of us observes the stop-arm command.
About the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council: IPAC is a non-partisan, independent state judicial branch agency that supports Indiana’s 91 prosecuting attorneys and their chief deputies. It is governed by a 10-member board of directors of elected prosecuting attorneys. IPAC assists prosecuting attorneys in the preparation of manuals, legal research, and training seminars. It serves as a liaison to local, state, and federal agencies, study commissions, and community groups to support law enforcement and promote the fair administration of justice.