When the bus stops, you stop

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Bloomfield School District student has asked the Greene County Daily World to help remind motorists that following traffic laws around school buses is important.

Bloomfield senior Sarah Wilkes rides the bus and she said too often, she sees motorists violating bus-passing laws and she is worried someone is going to get hurt.

“I ride right behind the bus driver’s seat and watch this happen every morning and afternoon Monday through Friday. I will tell you this: I’m tired of (them going by) our stop arm (either on their cell phone or just not paying attention to the flashing lights) and get away with it,” Wilkes said.

School buses carry precious cargo -- our youth and future leaders. They already have enough to deal with between social pressures, school days and homework. They don’t need the added worry of hoping they don’t get hit as they get off the bus at the end of the day.

Also: It’s illegal.

According to the Indiana State Police website, state law requires motorists to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off children. Stop arms and flashing red lights mean stop, not slow down or proceed with caution.

Based on Indiana Code, a motorist who recklessly passes a stopped school bus could be cited and receive a fine.

Greene County Sheriff Mike Hasler said tickets have been issued to bus stop arm violators in the past, and the department will sometimes put officers on buses of the rural schools to try to catch violators in action.

Hasler said individuals and bus drivers will alert the school or sheriff’s department of violations, which allows the sheriff’s department to create a running to identify problem areas.

“Reporting the problem is how we know about a violation, not only with the stop arm violations. Otherwise, we may not always know we have an issue. When people report it, we can go into the computer and see where to violations are to identify a hot spot,” Hasler explained.

Sometimes officers will try to sit near the designated “hot spots,” but when motorists see the officer they tend to follow the rules.

One of the most frequent hot spots the sheriff’s department works is on U.S. 231, where drivers are often making their way off of the interstate and forget to transition back into county driving.

Wilkes said her concern lies with motorists traveling the highway in Bloomfield, specifically in the area of Dairy Queen.

School is in session for over three more months. So, if at any point you are going to pay attention to what’s going on around you, please do so during the school day.

Motorists should always pay attention to their surroundings, so don’t put the children -- or other motorists and pedestrians -- at risk.