WARSAW — Warsaw Community Schools’ Board of Trustees discussed school bus stop arm violations during its monthly work session on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
At the session, WCS Board Member Randy Polston asked those at the meeting about a pedestrian crossing at Lakeview Middle School.
“Do we have or are we going to get stop signs or some type of blinking lights near there?” asked Polston. “One morning I was going over to Lakeview and I slowed way down. I almost didn’t see the crossing guard in the middle of the road until I was right there. This time of the year, it’s so dark in the morning.”
Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert told Polston that Chief Academic Officer Dr. David Robertson is currently working on getting blinking signs at the pedestrian crossing.
“Part of it is also all the traffic coming toward you with really bright headlights,” said Polston. “I didn’t see that individual until I was right there at the crosswalk.”
“That also seems to be such a dark area,” said Hoffert. “I know that the area is one staff members are continuing to look at.”
“I just want to remind people to be cautious when you’re approaching school zones,” said Board President Heather Reichenbach.
WCS Transportation Director Mark Fick also told board members that there have been several recent school bus stop arm violations as well.
“I’ve had nine in the last four days,” said Fick. “It’s people not caring and going past. I’ve had three on Husky Trail, and I had four violations yesterday [Nov. 11] alone.”
Board members then asked Fick to publicly explain when drivers are expected to stop for a school bus.
“So the amber lights will stream yellow, and will go on between 100 to 200 feet before the stop,” said Fick. “That identifies like a regular traffic light so the bus can keep physically moving. Once a bus stops, then the reds come on. There’s two in the front, two in the back, and the stop arm goes out. That stops all traffic. So when the red’s out, you need to stop. The bus does not move until they release their reds.”
“What if there’s not a median in between, but there’s two lanes of traffic and there’s a little bit of a small space?” asked Reichenbach. “Can people pass the bus?”
“No, they can’t pass it,” said Fick. “They have to stop completely. Anything 45 mph and above on a state road, we can’t have students crossing the road. I do what they call a line of sight. Any stop that a parent brings up to me or we’ve changed, the driver has to have a line of sight, which is straight forward at least 500 feet that they have to be able to see in front of them to see oncoming traffic.”
Board member Elle Turley asked Fick about trends with violations.
“Are the majority more on the opposite side of the road that are happening coming toward the bus?” asked Turley.
“Yes,” said Fick. “There’s even some times where the driver has eye-to-eye contact with the bus driver and just keeps going, even with the stop arm out. In the Whispering Pines area, near the railroad tracks…a bus will stop at the railroad tracks to clear the tracks and they’ll have cars whizz by and go right around them.”
Fick said 42 buses in the school corporation have stop arm cameras that pick up violators who pass a school bus stop arm.
“We protect the students and we protect the bus drivers,” said Fick. “That’s my big thing that I want to ensure.”