EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Thousands of kids across the Tri-State are back in class on Wednesday for the first day of school. Law enforcement in Vanderburgh County is watching students closer than ever.
An early morning for Chelsea Trail means a detail on the tail of a Blue Bird brand bus.
She has been a deputy for a little more than a year. Wednesday is the first time she or anyone in the office has been tasked with following a school bus, watching for drivers to blow past its stop sign.
“Unless there is a divided lane, either paved or unpaved, the vehicles have to stop if the school bus stop arm is out,” Trail said.
It’s the law and it might sound simple. But if it were that easy, she wouldn’t be awake at 5 a.m.
In a single day last year, Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation bus drivers reported 81 cars ignored their stop sign. The number came from a state-wide count to measure how bad the problem is.
The Sheriff’s Office and Evansville Police Department expect to spend thousands of dollars on targeted patrols over the school year to curb the staggering statistic. The state is funding local law enforcement for extra shifts.
In addition, a new Indiana law could land drivers in jail for blowing by a stopped bus. Drivers can be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines. If a driver injures or kills a student at a bus stop, the crime carries as many as 6 years in prison.
On the first day back in Evansville, drivers show a shining example of what you’re supposed to do. Drivers in Vanderburgh County got an “A” for their effort.
“All the cars were stopping for the stop sign on the bus,” Trail said.
Maybe all the work from schools and law enforcement is paying off.
Moms and dads will surely like that report card.
This story was originally published on August 7, 2019