Vanderburgh Co. Sheriff’s Office stepping up back to school patrols

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Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 2:23 PM CDT
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VANDERBURGH CO., Ind. (WFIE) - Deputies with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office say they’ve stepped up traffic enforcement around area schools and bus routes to help make sure this school year gets off to a safe start.

All Vanderburgh County schools are back in session for the 2022-2023 school year by Wednesday.

Since classes started for some students Monday, officials say a large number of buses are on the road.

There are children getting on and off those buses, new bus stop locations, new bus routes, congestion in and around schools, new student drivers, and many other factors to be aware of as our kids return to the classroom.

At some schools, sheriff’s deputies are helping with traffic direction in and out of the school parking lots and drop off zones. The Vanderburgh County Highway Department has placed large school zone warning signs near schools to help warn drivers.

The Sheriff’s Office has four specially trained school resource deputies to provide physical security, law enforcement services, and informal student mentoring and counseling at all schools located outside the city limits.

Over the next couple of weeks, sheriff’s deputies will be increasing patrols to prevent stop-arm violations, speeding and other forms of reckless driving around school buses and in school zones.

They join more than 200 police agencies across the state in support of the back-to-school Stop Arm Violation Enforcement campaign. The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).

“In 2019, Indiana increased the penalty for recklessly disregarding a school bus stop arm from a Class B Misdemeanor to a Class A Misdemeanor. The offense becomes a Level 6 Felony if a child or other person is injured as a result,” said Lt. Noah Robinson. “Stop-arm violations and school zone speeding needlessly put children’s lives at risk. Senseless tragedy can be avoided simply by staying alert during your morning and afternoon commute.”

In April, thousands of bus drivers who participated in a one-day observational survey counted 2,041 stop-arm violations in Indiana. That one-day total, when multiplied by the number of school days, adds up to a potential 367,380 violations throughout the school year.

The newly released data comes from the National School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey, which is managed by the Indiana Department of Education. This year, collection took place on April 26, with 6,665 bus drivers participating from 195 school districts.

Tips for back to school safety:

  • If bus service is available, please utilize it.
  • If your student is wearing a mask, make sure it is fitted properly so that their vision is not obstructed while entering and exiting the bus.
  • Please take pictures of your new student before you get to the school. Do not park in the drop-off zones of any of the schools to take your child into class.
  • Utilize the proper restraint systems in your vehicle.
  • Keep your speed to a minimum and pay extra attention in and around school zones and near school bus loading areas.
  • When a school bus stops and a red stop arm or flashing red lights appear, children are boarding or exiting the bus. Be on the lookout for children crossing the street even after the bus has moved on.
  • Please, no cell phone use in the school zones or at any other time while operating a vehicle.
  • Encourage children getting on and off school buses to be very mindful of surrounding traffic, because the traffic may not be watching for them.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Do not let the frustration of running late compromise the good driving decisions you make.
  • Please call 911 to report dangerous driving situations.

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