EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Many kids across the Tri-State go back to school next week. This year, local police will do something different to school drivers who blow by buses with their stop arms extended.
Last year on a single day in Vanderburgh County, bus drivers reported 81 stop-arm violations. It was part of a state-wide count to measure how bad the problem is.
Sheriff Dave Wedding says it’s a staggering number.“They’re aggressive drivers, they’re distracted drivers, and they’re not paying attention.”
Unless you are driving on the other side of a divided road, cars in both directions must stop for a bus. It’s the law.
“There should be no excuse to go around one, but it happens,” Wedding said.
A new federal grant gives the Sheriff’s Office, Evansville Police, and Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation Police some extra cash to target drivers who break the law.
All three agencies have planned for specific enforcement of stop-arm violators.
EVSC has nearly 25,000 students going to and from school every day. Wedding says too often those students are put in harm’s way by cars cruising by a stopped bus with its lights flashing.
Spokesperson for the EVSC, Jason Woebkenberg praises the partnership between the school corporation and local law enforcement.
“It’s vitally important in making sure students are safe getting on the bus in the morning, getting off the bus in the afternoon.”
The extra money means more patrols, so police plan to write more tickets and even put people in jail. Wedding isn’t worried about running out of room in a jail already bursting at the seams.
“I don’t care how many people I have in jail, if somebody’s intentionally going around a school bus, bring them to my jail and I’ll find a spot for them.”
Depending on how busy deputies are on the streets, the extra enforcement could cost as much as $10,000. Wedding says it’s safe to assume all the agencies will spend thousands this school year watching buses load and unload students.
Wedding and EVSC will be identifying areas around the city and county with the worst offenders.
This story was originally published on August 2, 2019