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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Drivers running stop arm on school buses remains an issue

Friday, November 9, 2012

Drivers are required to stop for a school bus when the stop arm is engaged, but blowing past the signal has become a growing trend in the North Putnam community. The Indiana State Police are cracking down by following buses in unmarked vehicles.
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BAINBRIDGE -- Vehicles speeding to and from work along U.S. 36 have blown past stopped school buses at an alarming rate recently.

When a school bus has its red lights flashing and a stop-arm extended, cars going in both directions are required to stop, but bus drivers and parents have witnessed a number of violations.

"We have been contacted a number of times over the last couple years by the North Putnam School Corporation and parents along U.S. 36," Indiana State Police Sgt. Joe Watts said.

On Thursday the ISP had a unmarked-car stakeout to catch possible violators, something they have done more than 10 times.

"It's getting worse," North Putnam bus driver Penny Rush said. "One of these days they're going to hurt somebody's child."

Rush has been a bus driver for the school for 8 years and said she and all of the other drivers are extremely protective of the students, being sure to turn on her yellow warning lights well in advance of a stop.

But that's not always enough to make motorists stop.

"Sometimes it's because they're on a cell phone, sometimes it's because they don't want to stop," Rush said. "You can tell. When they see the yellow lights come on, they speed up."

ISP officers issued a citation to one such motorist on Thursday.

Sgt. Watts said the driver stated he saw the yellow and red lights, but didn't believe he had time to stop. ISP officers disagreed.

Violators can be issued either a citation for a traffic infraction -- a $150 ticket -- or, if the perpetrator is behaving especially recklessly, a class B misdemeanor, punishable with up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Stephen and Kim Lawrenz have an eight-year-old son, Seth, who attends Bainbridge Elementary.

The Lawrenzs live along U.S. 36 and meet Seth at the end of their driveway almost every day.

"If (drivers) see me, they know there is a kid getting off," Lawrenz said.

But that's not always the case.

A 230-foot skid mark in front of their driveway is from a semi driver that failed to stop in time for the bus. Luckily Seth doesn't have to cross the road on his way home, but a number of students along the route do.

"(Drivers) have to be patient, slow down and always look down range," Watts said.

When the semi skidded in front of the Lawrenz home, they took action. Kim got information and called state and local police to track the vehicle down.

Weeks later, ISP officers tracked the driver down and issued him a citation.

"The law says all we need to have is a preponderance of evidence," Watts said. "(To issue a citation) we don't need beyond a reasonable doubt."

Parents, bus drivers and other witnesses can write down the license plate number, a vehicle description and other markings and notify local or state law enforcement officers.

Police have up to two years to issue a ticket.

Rush said during the Covered Bridge Festival drivers were flagrant violators, even going as far as making eye contact and waving to her as they drove past a stop arm.

The students are taught to be careful and not cross the street until drivers wave them across.

For the past couple years, they've done a better job obeying signals than the passing motorists.

"When drivers see those yellow lights come on," Rush said, "that's a signal to them to be ready to stop."

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What is really sad is that we have to teach our kids to look out for ignorant adults.

-- Posted by tiredmom on Fri, Nov 9, 2012, at 9:06 AM

I don't understand why bus manufactures don't have an option to equip them with cameras that capture when people run the stopsign. The technology has been in place in the form of traffic light cameras for years.

-- Posted by hometownboy on Fri, Nov 9, 2012, at 10:55 AM

I am SOOO glad they are working on this problem ! I live on 36 & my child catches the bus daily. We are out every day with her as she catches the bus. Vehicles speeding big time daily, ignoring the bus continually. Vehicles seemed better yesterday only because there were marked police cars behind the bus. It needs to be done daily with an unmarked car ! Kudos to the Lawrenz family for tracking down the driver !

-- Posted by MyOpinion812 on Fri, Nov 9, 2012, at 11:46 AM

ISP,Putnamville Post,has really picked up the pace over the last couple years..Be sure to call and them for their improved service in Putnam County.

-- Posted by kubotafan on Fri, Nov 9, 2012, at 12:03 PM

way to go Kim, Steve and police !

-- Posted by talkymom3 on Fri, Nov 9, 2012, at 6:19 PM

It amazes me how selfish and ignorant people are regarding the yellow/red flashing lights AND the stop arm. There have been children injured and killed because of these idiots.

Take a moment out of your selfish lives to think of someone else for a change!

Believe me when I tell you that you AREN'T THAT IMPORTANT - no matter who you are or think you are. If you're running late (habitually or first time) .. that's YOUR fault. Get up earlier.

People like this make me sick.

-- Posted by Emmes on Wed, Nov 14, 2012, at 11:43 AM

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