PRINCETON, Ind. (WFIE) - Students in Gibson County have been back for about a week.
Since then, Princeton police have upped their patrols to keep kids safe. There are two parts to this story, a speed sign and some overtime, but there is one message.
“We want awareness," said Princeton Police Chief Derek McGraw. "You know, I don’t care if we write a ticket, I just want zero violations, so whatever that job is.”
McGraw says the department plans to do that with a speed limit sign, but it’s not your ordinary speed limit sign. This one was a screen that will display messages that inform you about how fast you’re driving. If you exceed the speed limit, it will tell you slow down. If you are way over the speed limit then you’ll see blue and red flashing lights.
At that point, the sign will take a picture of your car and send it back to police along with other data that the sign picks up regarding traffic patterns.
“I can go put this sign up and I can go figure out exactly what time of day the heavy speeders are, when’s the most traffic, and then we can isolate that much quicker than having an officer go down there for hours on end and only catching one speeder," McGraw said. "So now we know when the traffic flow, what the patters are when the speed’s heavy and we can make sure we go interrupt that and redirect that traffic pattern down there.”
In addition to the speed sign, PPD will also have extra patrols on the roads during school hours. The goal is to crack down on stop arm violations.
“A school bus stop generally takes about 30 seconds, less than a minute. You can’t be so much in a hurry that you don’t have 30 seconds to stop,” McGraw said. “That stop, literally could be life or death.”
Princeton police said they got the money for the overtime pay through the state’s SAVE funding, that stands for Stop Arm Violation Enforcement.
“You get nervous and scared because you’re thinking ‘Oh my god, everybody needs to be out of the way,'" said Jonita Greene.
“Jon Jon” as her riders affectionately call her, has driven North Gibson school buses for 13 years and says knowing that police are following her bus looking for stop arm violators gives her an extra sense of comfort.
“We can warn them, school’s getting ready to be in session and blah blah blah, the whole nine yards. It’s just like *psh choo* you know and then they look at us like we’re doing something wrong," Greene said. "A stop sign is a stop sign regardless of where it is and if it’s attached to one of these big yellow buses, you’re going to get in a whole lot more trouble running that stop arm than you would a stop sign out here on the street.”
McGraw said the extra patrols will be in town for the first six weeks of school. He said the speed sign will focus on school zones or the next number of weeks, but will change it’s location every now and again.