INDIANAPOLIS – Students across Indiana have been making their way back to the classroom and that means more school buses have been back on roadways.

Distracted and reckless driving can be major problems for parents as they put their trust in bus drivers to get their kids to and from school safely.

This is challenging when other drivers are using unsafe habits such as texting and driving or driving while impaired which can lead to the crime of “reckless driving.”

Hoosier drivers should know according to preliminary reports by the National Safety Council, the number of deadly accidents was 12% higher in 2022 than the year prior. Indiana also ranks tenth on this list of states with the most accidents in 2022, according to Insurify.

Indianapolis Metro police confirmed that 1,050 tickets were cited for “distracted driving” which is driving while using a distraction like your cellphone. Whereas 149 were arrested for “reckless driving” which is driving using unsafe maneuvers, a criminal offense in Indiana.

The data from police were pulled from January to August 2023.

The numbers provided by IMPD underscore the bigger problem nationwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said over 35 hundred people were lost to “distracted driving” in 2021.

The number increased drastically when factoring in speeding to 12,330 deaths.

Concerning kids riding school buses, more than 200 agencies are participating in the back-to-school Stop Arm Violation Enforcement campaign (SAVE). Even with thousands being cited across Indiana, unsafe driving around buses continues to be a major concern according to state officials.

In April, thousands of bus drivers who participated in a one-day observational survey counted 2,091 stop-arm violations in Indiana. That one-day total adds up to a potential 376,380 violations throughout the school year. 

“It is disheartening that we still have people who are willing to put the lives of students and bus drivers at risk,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Law enforcement cannot be everywhere, so it is up to drivers to do the right thing and exercise caution around school buses. Students’ lives depend on it.” 

Drivers should remember to slow down and stop when school bus lights are flashing yellow. Then when the lights turn red and the stop arm extends all drivers are required to stop with one exception. If you’re on a highway divided by a physical barrier like a concrete wall or grassy median, only drivers in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.

Disregarding a bus stop arm is a Class A infraction; violators could pay a fine up to $10,000 and have their license suspended for 90 days or up to a year for the second offense.

If a driver disregards a bus arm and causes injury, then it becomes a Class 6 Felony. Violators face anywhere from six months to two and a half years in jail.

The offense becomes a Class 5 Felony if someone is killed, carrying a sentence between one year and six years.