LaGrange Co. law enforcement to ride on buses to catch stop arm violations

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TOPEKA, Ind. (WNDU) - Officials say drivers ignore bus stop arms almost every day across Michiana, and law enforcement in LaGrange County is launching an operation to raise awareness and cut down on violations.

“When we see some of these violations turned in, some of the video is just very scary,” LaGrange County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Travis Glick said. “It's not just a passenger car, we're talking big trucks that are blowing the stop arms, as well, and unfortunately, we've even had some buggies that are going around the arm too.”

The Westview School Corporation transportation director says there have been 46 bus stop violations that have been reported to him this year alone.

“I've had two times where people have actually passed me on the right side, and not slow,” bus driver Pam Flowers said. “It was terrifying; I just sat there and shook.”

That's why the LaGrange County Prosecutor's Office is teaming up with the sheriff's department and city police departments for Operation Bus Blitz.

Officers will go on ride-alongs with bus drivers, and then communicate with fellow officers in unmarked vehicles if they see bus stop arm violations.

“A lot of times, the bus driver can't always pick up the plate information and some of the other details we may need to help,” Glick said. “So, it's one of those things where we need to bring attention to it, and we thought one of the best ways would be to have an officer ride on some of the more troubled routes.”

The sheriff says much of the county is rural, yet there are major roadways like U.S. 20 and State Road 5 that are often busy with tourists visiting Amish Country, and they hope to spread awareness to drivers everywhere.

“The kids shouldn't have to worry about approaching vehicles, and they certainly shouldn't have to worry if they're going to get killed getting on or off the bus,” bus driver Tracy Pelton said.

The operation will take place at the end of this school year and again at the start of the school year in August.