BOONE COUNTY — Law enforcement agencies in Indiana are coming together to crack down on dangerous driving around school buses. They are participating in the “Stop Arm Violation Enforcement Blitz" or SAVE Blitz. It's a statewide effort through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
The Boone County Traffic Safety Partnership, which includes five different agencies, applied for funding through this program. They received $28,000 this year as part of the “SAVE Blitz” to put extra patrols out on the roads. Officials watch for people speeding in school zones, and follow buses to make sure cars stop when they should. They also focus on routes and areas that may need the extra enforcement most.
“It is not just random jump-in behind a bus. We work closely with the transportation managers to see which bus drivers notice there may be a problem in their area with violating it, or if the public calls in and says either traffic is going too fast around these buses or there are stop arm violations. We try to put officers in the area right away,” said Deputy Marc Mitalski with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials say data shows these efforts are working and as a result, creating safer streets.
This is the Boone County Traffic Safety Partnership’s third year participating in the program. Officials say in 2019 they issued 25 stop arm violations during the blitz period. In 2020, they issued seven. As of Aug. 24, they’ve only had to issue three for the 2021 period.
“It looks like with the same number of patrols the violations are going down which, we think, is attributed to the high visibility, enforcement, and also the community being more aware that the safety of the kids is paramount,” Mitalski said. “It's great. The complaints have come down and we see that as we drive through the neighborhoods. The parents are happy seeing us there as we drive through, that we are present, that we are following their children's school bus to make sure they stay safe."
However, there are some limitations to the program. It does not run year round. The 2021 “SAVE Blitz” runs from mid-March through the end of May and then it picks up again in the fall, running from August through mid-September.
But, leaders say that they still feel it's making an impact on the community and changing the behavior of drivers around school buses.