People support tougher penalties for school bus stop arm violations

State lawmakers are looking at increasing penalties for people who don't stop for school buses.

Posted: Jan 16, 2019 6:48 PM
Updated: Jan 17, 2019 6:27 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - People not stopping for school buses is still a big problem here in northeast Indiana.

State lawmakers are looking at increasing penalties for people who don't stop for school buses.

The push comes after three kids were killed in Rochester as they tried to get on the bus.

There are four different bills making their way through the legislature making stop arm violations a misdemeanor.

People in Fort Wayne think the proposed penalties don't go far enough.

"There are children's lives at stake," said Travis Stull.

More than 30,000 people a day blow through school bus stop arms across the state, with more than 250 of those violations happening in Allen County.

"Why? Just why? Why do you have to be so impatient? It's not like you're going anywhere super important, a couple minutes extra isn't going to throw you off track," said Stull.

Several proposals lawmakers are considering makes passing a school bus a class b misdemeanor, punishable by 180 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

"Anyone who is stupid enough to do that deserves to go to jail for a lot longer. And have a larger fine," Stull said.

Bus drivers told FOX 55 they think more people would stop under the proposal.

However, Eric McChessney, whose kids ride Northwest Allen County School buses, feels running a stop arm should be a felony.

"I think it should be a felony because if they do manslaughter, they go to jail for more than 180 days," he said.

McChessney added people don't stop for his kid's bus often.

"I want to yell at them and run down there but there's nothing you can do about it," said McChessney.

NACS, like many districts across the state, are following these bills closely.

Right now the district trains students to watch for the driver's signal before crossing.

"We are looking at maybe a pilot with the bus cameras but we're not sure that's going to be feasible because of funding constraints," said NACS spokeswoman Lizzette Downey.

Stull had one message for lawmakers.

"Make sure theses kids lives actually matter," he said.

Now if state lawmakers approve this legislation, and governor Eric Holcomb signs it, it will take effect July 1, in time for the next school year.

Other proposals would also make it illegal for students to cross state highways to get on and off the bus.

However many rural school districts have told FOX 55 they already try to have door side stops, but it is impossible for every stop to be door side.

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