TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Indiana State Police troopers boarded Vigo County School Corp. buses recently in an effort to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.
The enforcement action stemmed from complaints received from the school system’s bus drivers, who alleged that numerous motorists on a highway in Vigo County were disregarding the flashing red lights and stop arms of school buses.
Those allegations were passed on to the Indiana State Police commercial vehicle enforcement section for assistance. In addition to putting troopers on the buses to call out suspected violations, other troopers followed in unmarked patrol cars for the traffic stops.
On Sept. 28, troopers rode for 30 to 45 minutes on three of the Vigo County School Corp. buses. During this period, troopers wrote three traffic citations for motorists who violated Indiana's school bus stop arm law, and officials said other violations occurred as troopers were issuing those traffic summons.
"The Indiana State Police would like to inform motorists that today's enforcement effort is just the beginning of more patrols to come targeting school bus stop arm violations. Voluntary compliance of this law is the ultimate goal, and this will hopefully be accomplished through education and enforcement," said commercial vehicle enforcement officer Master Trooper Chuck Tharp, who organized the designated patrol.
In Indiana, a motorist is guilty of a Class A infraction if he or she meets or overtakes from any direction a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended and has not stopped before reaching the bus. A motorist is also guilty of a Class A infraction if he or she proceeds before the stop arm is up.
If a person operates a vehicle and recklessly passes a school bus with its stop arm extended, he or she has committed a Class B misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the illegal passing causes bodily injury to a person.
Moreover, if the offense results in damage to the property of another person or bodily injury to another person, the person’s driver’s license could be suspended for no less than 30 days, but for no longer than one year.
A person convicted of a Class A infraction can be fined up to $10,000. A person convicted of a Class B misdemeanor can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed up to 180 days.