MORRISTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — Megan O’Neal has driven school buses for Shelby Eastern Schools for two school years.
“It affords me time with my son,” O’Neal said.
The district provided video which shows a driver going right past a stopped school bus, with stop arms out, in December of last year. O’Neal says it happened to her a few weeks ago while her bus was stopped.
“The driver sped up to get through the stop arms before they fully extended,” O’Neal said.
She says it made her feel especially angry as a parent.
On Monday, 16-year-old Lily Streeval, a Columbus East High School student , was killed in a hit-and-run. Police have arrested the 25-year-old driver they believe hit her.
Katrina Falk is Shelby Eastern Schools’ transportation director. They sometimes see people totally ignore school buses.
“We put out on social media, multiple times a school year, when you see a school bus, assume that it’s going to stop. When you see the yellow flashing lights, that’s just like a traffic signal. That’s your warning that the bus is about to stop. If you see red lights on a school bus and the stop arms out, stop,” Falk said.
Both Falk and O’Neal say school bus drivers typically put the yellow flashers on roughly 200-300 feet before the actual stop. That, they say, gives drivers roughly 10 seconds of advance notice.
“The preschoolers are in five-point harnesses,” O’Neal said. “So, by the time we get them unbuckled, their backpacks on, and in the winter, their coats and things, you’re looking at 35-45 seconds that that person may be stopped behind me or in front of me. So, just having a little patience. They’re not saving that much time by running that stop arm.”
In 2018, state law changed in the months after 3 children were hit by a vehicle and killed at a bus stop near Rochester. Students are now no longer allowed to cross state highways or roads where the speed limit is greater than 50 mph.
“We are already a very heavily regulated industry,” Falk said. “With Senate Bill 2, we are not allowed to cross students on state highways or roadways where the speed limit is greater than 50 mph. We do have to review our routes each school year before Sept.1 and notify our school boards that we have reviewed our routes for safety and compliance.”
Falk told News 8 that stop arm cameras are on several of their school buses. The cameras can capture traffic coming and going.
One of the cameras captures the license plate and can zoom in clearly, even if the car is going 60 mph past the school bus. Falk says the plan is to put external cameras on all buses.
“Even if you don’t have children in our school district, that is someone’s baby,” Falk said.
Unless the road is divided by a physical barrier or unimproved median, here’s what you have to do: If you see the crossing guard extended, if you see the stop arms out, if you see the red flashing lights, state law requires drivers to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off children.