Special Report: Stop-arm Violators

Special Report: Stop-arm Violators
Published: Oct. 17, 2019 at 6:14 PM CDT
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TRI-STATE (WFIE) - Drivers ignoring school bus stops arms could be putting your kids in danger.

In a 14 News Investigation, we set out to find just how often these violations are happening and what’s being done to stop them.

“I don’t want to explain to my boss, or to the school corporation, that parent hey, your child got off my bus and this is what happened," said North Gibson School Corporation Bus Driver Jonita Greene. "I don’t ever want to have that conversation, ever.”

Records we requested from several law enforcement agencies in southern Indiana reveal more than 20 stop-arm violations reported just in the last six weeks.

“Everybody is in such a hurry, It’s not worth a child’s life at all,” said Greene.

Greene has been driving school buses for North Gibson Schools for 15 years, transporting about 120 kids a day. She says keeping her students safe is a top priority.

“You’re just hoping and praying that they’re going to stop,” said Greene.

Princeton police say they catch violators using the North Gibson school bus stop-arm cameras. Police are making their presence known by following buses on their routes, catching violators in the act.

“If the school bus stop arm is out that means there is a small child moving, and that could easily turn into a fatality very quickly,” said Princeton Police Chief Derek McGraw.

On Oct. 30, 2018, Indiana State Police reported three Indiana children boarding a school bus were hit and killed after a driver failed to stop for a school bus stop-arm.

24-year-old Alyssa Shepherd faces many charges including three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus causing injury. Shepherd’s trial started this week and she faces a maximum sentence of 21.5 years in prison if convicted.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Traffic Safety Division handed out Stop Arm Violation Enforcement Grants this year.

Allowing law enforcement to put more eyes on the roads during the first eight weeks of school.

Chief McGraw says they put in more than 100 hours during this period, citing eight stop-arm violations.

" A couple of them are just blatant, a couple of them are just absolutely rude," explains Chief McGraw. “I mean there’s one guy you’ll see on video that drove through the grass to go around the cars.”

Greene tells 14 News she has had a lot of close calls, and if it wasn’t for her students being alert and attentive, disaster could be just around the corner.

“They’re paying attention to you hollering move, run, go the opposite way,” said Greene.

She says thankfully, none of her bus riders have been hurt, and she prays that it never happens in the future.

“I’d probably turn in my keys, even though I did everything I could to keep them safe, I would not want to slide behind that wheel again,” said Greene.

Princeton Police are currently applying for a grant that would help them extend their school bus patrol for the entire school year. It would also allow them to follow north, south, and east Gibson schools.

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