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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Rockport Police conducting school bus safety patrols

Rockport Police will be working to safeguard students as they get on and off the bus this fall. Over the next couple of months, officers will be positioned along bus stops and routes looking for stop-arm violations and motorists driving dangerously. The overtime patrols are part of the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program, which was developed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute last year, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As part of the effort, officers will work with local school corporations and bus drivers to identify problem areas where the highest number of violations occur.

“We take these violations very seriously and personally, as they jeopardize the safety of every child on that bus,” said Rockport Police Chief Jason Overfield. “Pay attention to the road, and if you see a bus with flashing yellow lights, that means slow down and get ready to stop—not go faster. As drivers, we are all responsible for school bus safety.”

In 2019, thousands of bus drivers in Indiana participated in an annual survey and reported more than 2,500 stop-arm violations in a single day. Taking that one-day total as an average, that means an estimated 450,000 violations could have occurred during the 2019 school year.

In Indiana, it is against the law for motorists to pass a bus that is stopped and has its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended. This applies to all roads, with one exception. On multi-lane roads divided by a physical barrier or unpaved median, vehicles traveling the opposite direction of the bus may proceed with due caution.

“Always err on the side of caution when it comes to school bus safety. If you are not sure what to do, just stop,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “The best way to think about it is to drive like it’s your child boarding or riding that bus.”

The following is a list of school bus safety tips provided by NHTSA.

• Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

• Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

• When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.

• Do not drive distracted or impaired.

• Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.

• Be prepared. Knowing how to drive when buses are around is critical.

Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

To learn more about Rockport Police, visit www.RockportPolice.org.

About the SAVE program

Launched in 2019, the Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program works to provide safe transportation routes for students going to and from school in Indiana. Grants are awarded to law enforcement agencies to conduct high visibility patrols along school bus stops and routes, which are identified by coordinating with local school corporations, bus drivers and other key officials. SAVE is funded by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

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