NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — One month into the 2022-23 school year, the Noblesville Police Department said there’d already been 13 stop arm violations.
Eleven citations have been issued so far for drivers who have been caught driving passed buses while their stop arms are extended and indicating that children may be crossing streets and roads. In collaboration with Noblesville Schools, they’re cracking down on drivers violating the law to keep kids safe.
“One citation is too many,” said Lt. Bruce Barnes with the department. “It’s a class A infraction in Indiana which means it’s punishable by up to $10,000. There also can be a 90-day license suspension.”
Lt. Barnes said stop arm violations have been a problem for years.
In 2018, there was only one recorded stop arm violation. In 2019, there were six. In 2020, there were seven and in 2021 there were a total of 17 stop arm violations for Noblesville.
Receiving a citation isn’t as simple as paying a speeding ticket. Drivers will have to appear before a judge in a court of law.
“If you violate the law and we have the evidence to prove it, we’re going to take every case before a judge and try to get this stopped,” said Lt. Barnes.
The evidence now comes from cameras that have been installed inside Noblesville school buses.
Before, officers had boots on the ground in and around buses and school zones. Now, they still do, but cameras being in nearly all 127 buses for the district also help aid in cracking down violators.
In a statement to News 8, Noblesville Schools said:
“We have an outstanding collaborative relationship with the Noblesville Police Department across many areas with the shared goals of keeping our students and staff safe.
In addition to NPD watching for stop arm bus safety violations, we are in the process of equipping all of our school buses with stop arm cameras. The majority of our buses have them already. These cameras record drivers who violate stop arm laws and we then report those incidents to the Noblesville Police Department. All that said, even if a police vehicle may not appear to be nearby, drivers could still be on camera.”
The district said keeping students safe is their top priority and they’re reminding drivers of the bus safety rules with this graphic:
The district began piloting the cameras in 2018. The cameras are $3,000 each and they funded the initial units that were retrofitted to existing buses through safety funding. Now they come specified on buses that they order new. The cameras give a 360-degree view of traffic to drivers who can turn over the footage to the police department if they witness a stop arm violation.
“The cameras are such high quality that we’re able to see the driver. We’re able to see a license plate. We’re able to see the type of vehicles. We’re able to see passengers in the vehicle,” said Lt. Barnes.
He said they also want drivers to keep in mind speeding for school zones. The department has an increased presence for traffic flow in the hopes that people are also patient while driving alongside car riders before and after school.
Aaron Seamon is a Noblesville father of two who feels confident in the district and department to keep his girls safe.
That confidence still doesn’t stop certain drivers from violating the law and potentially hurting a child.
“A stop sign’s a stop sign. Whether it’s on the street or it’s on a bus. When that stop arm is out, stop, and don’t roll through you know the intersections, because we have kids that get on,” said Seamon.
The Indiana Department of Education coordinates the annual National School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey on behalf of the state.
Earlier this year, participating bus drivers observed 2,041 stop arm violations in just one day of data collected. The state Department of Education said this is a serious offense that risks students’ safety. More information on the survey for 2022 is available online.
The department says it’s proud to support its partners at the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute on enforcement strategies to limit these violations, which you can read more about in a news release.