The Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office and the Evansville Police Department are stepping up traffic enforcement around area schools and bus routes to help ensure the 2020-2021 school year gets off to a safe start.
On Aug. 19, VCSO Deputies and EPD Officers will be following school buses in both marked and unmarked vehicles looking for violators of Indiana's school bus stop arm laws. VCSO says that drivers who fail to pay attention and stop for a school bus stop arm will be cited for Disregarding a School Bus Stop Arm as a Class A Infraction, while drivers who intentionally drive around a stopped school bus with an extended stop arm face a more severe penalty and may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.
Local law enforcement has also partnered with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) to help combat school bus stop arm violations.
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.
ICJI says in 2019, thousands of Indiana bus drivers participated in an annual survey where over 2,500 stop-arm violations were reported in a single day. Taking that one-day total as an average, an estimated 450,000 stop-arm violations could have occurred during the 2019 school year.
"We take the safety of every child very seriously. Stop-arm violations and dangerous driving in school zones put precious lives at risk. Our deputies will be patrolling all of our county school zones and watching for unsafe driving behavior," Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding explained.
Resurrection Catholic School, Corpus Christi School, and St. Joseph School are already in session. Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation schools begin on Wednesday, Aug. 19