The Indiana State Police recently made two announcements pertaining to school buses and the laws in place regarding stopped buses. Indiana law requires school bus drivers to stop at all railway crossings, whether those crossings are equipped with crossing arms or not, and visually inspect for oncoming trains. The Indiana State Police Commercial Motor Vehicle Division has recently received reports from some school districts of their buses being struck in the rear by motorists failing to realize that they are required to stop at rail way crossings.
Sergeant Chris Kath of the Indiana State Police Commercial Motor Division explained that bus drivers activate their four way flashers when approaching a rail way crossing to alert motorists that they will be stopping. He further explained that bus drivers do not activated the overhead yellow flashing lights, the ones that are activated prior to stopping to allow a child off the bus, because when the driver opens the door to observe for trains, the red stop lights are automatically activated by the opening of the door. Kath stated motorists approaching the bus could be confused and stop on the railroad tracks.
In addition, the Indiana State Police want to remind motorists that when you are approaching a school bus from any direction which is stopped with its flashing red lights activated and its stop arm extended, you are required to stop, even on multiple lane highways, with the only exception being highways that are divided by a barrier or unimproved median. In these cases, motorists traveling in the opposite, oncoming lane to the school bus are not required to stop; however, travelers in the same direction as the school bus must stop.
Remember, when approaching a school bus be prepared to stop and watch for slowed or stopped traffic. Disregarding a school bus stop arm is a serious violation and one that school bus drivers are quick to report. Violation of this law is a Class A infraction and is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000.
The Indiana State Police is committed to the safety of Hoosier children, motorists and highways, and will continue enforcement and education efforts to ensure that safety.