INDIANAPOLIS — With the new school year starting up, Hoosier police agencies will be receiving funds for traffic enforcement at school bus stops.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute is giving approximately $380,000 to 39 agencies for overtime school bus stop enforcement over the next two months. In our region, the Fulton, Howard and Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Departments and Peru Police Department is listed among those to receive funding.
“Indiana police officers will be enforcing increased fines and penalties for drivers who recklessly pass bus stops and drive aggressively,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement. “This is one of many steps that Indiana is taking to protect the safety of school children as classes resume.
This past year the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 2 in response to the accident that claimed the lives of three children last year at a school bus stop in Fulton County.
Alivia Stahl and her twin brothers, Xzavier and Mason Ingle, were hit and killed last October after Alyssa Shepherd, who was on her way to work, failed to stop for a school bus as the children crossed the street. The bus lights were flashing and the stop arm was extended.
Shepherd is scheduled to stand trial in October on three counts of reckless homicide, one count of criminal recklessness and one count of passing a school bus with its safety arm extended.
SEA 2, authored by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport,makes running a school bus stop sign a Class A misdemeanor, up from a Class B misdemeanor. If the action results in injury, it is a Level 6 felony, and if the action results in a death it is a Level 5 felony, which carries a penalty of one to six years in prison.
The new law requires school buses to have reflective tape in certain areas, operate with daytime running lights and says drivers should load and unload a student as close to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
Others changes include that if a school bus is operated on a U.S. or state route, outside city or town boundaries, the bus driver may not load or unload a student at a location that requires the student to cross a roadway. The only exception is if there are no other safe alternatives.
State law had already required motorists to stop, rather than simply proceed with caution, when a school bus is picking up or dropping off children, as signaled by its lights and an extended stop arm.
Drivers do not have to stop if the road is divided by a physical barrier such as a guardrail, concrete barrier or grass median. On a divided roadway, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the school bus are required to stop.
Around 230 Indiana police agencies receive federal grants for traffic enforcement including speeding, aggressive driving and school bus stop-arm violations.
Police agencies may apply for future traffic-enforcement grants, including school-bus stop enforcement grants, through Aug. 30 at www.in.gov/cji.
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Agencies to receive funds for bus stop enforcement