THE ISSUE: Drivers ignoring stop arms on school buses has been a problem for years and continues to frustrate school and law enforcement officials.
OUR VIEW: We agree that violators should be arrested and spend time in jail as opposed to just being issued a ticket.
Anything that helps keep students safe as they board their school buses is an idea worth trying.
So count us among those who support Republican state Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, who introduced a bill to lawmakers that would stiffen penalties for school bus stop arm violations.
Under the bill, those who don't stop for buses with their signs out would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor instead of a Class A infraction. The difference means violators could be arrested and spend time in jail as opposed to just being issued a ticket.
Bassler introduced a similar bill a few years ago, but it never went anywhere. Bassler hopes things will be different this legislative session following the deaths of three children who were killed at their bus stop near Rochester. The driver who struck the students was charged with three counts of reckless homicide and a misdemeanor count of passing a school bus causing injury.
Drivers ignoring stop arms has been a problem for years and continues to frustrate school and law enforcement officials.
The Indiana Department of Education conducts a one-day count each year to track violations. On April 24 last year, 3,082 stop arm violations were voluntarily reported by 201 districts across the state. Multiply the number of violations by 180 school days and it's estimated that the number of stop arm violations for the school year would be 554,760.
A year earlier the number of violations reported by 145 districts for the one-day count was 2,280.
There are other steps that can be taken to try and improve school bus boarding safety, including increased enforcement by police, the installation of cameras on buses and the relocation of school bus stops from busy streets or highways to less traveled neighborhood streets.
Add to those measures tougher penalties for violators and maybe drivers will finally get the message that ignoring a school bus stop arm is against the law and, quite possibly, deadly.
- South Bend Tribune