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INDIANAPOLIS — With students heading back to school, police are starting extra patrols to remind motorists to stop for school buses or face the consequences.

More than 200 agencies across the state are participating in the back-to-school Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) campaign. During the campaign, officers increase patrols to prevent stop-arm violations, speeding, and other forms of reckless driving around school buses and in school zones.

“Drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus or speed in a school zone need to be held accountable,” said Governor Eric Holcomb. “We owe it to our kids to make sure they get home safely. Every driver needs to do their part by paying attention, slowing down and protecting school children and buses.”

In April, drivers who participated in a one-day survey counted more than 2,000 stop-arm violations. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) says that adds up to a potential 367,380 violations throughout the school year.

“The fact that we still have people willing to put students and bus drivers at risk is the reason this campaign is necessary,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Still, law enforcement can’t be everywhere, so drivers need to do the right thing and exercise caution around buses. Students’ lives depend on it.”

The ICJI says drivers should slow down and prepare to stop when the overhead lights on a school bus are flashing yellow. Once the lights turn red and the stop arm extends, drivers are required to stop on all roads with one exception.

On highways divided by a physical barrier, such as a concrete wall or grassy median, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the school bus are required to stop.

Photo// Indiana State Police

The ICJI says disregarding a school bus stop arm is a Class A Infraction. Violators could pay a fine of up to $10,000, have their license suspended for up to 90 days for the first offense or up to 1 year for the second.