09/23/13 You’re following a school bus and suddenly you notice the four way flashers are activated and the bus is slowing. You don’t observe any emergency. What could be happening? Perhaps that school bus driver is following the law as they approach a rail way crossing.
The Indiana State Police would like to remind motorists that Indiana law requires school bus drivers to stop at all rail way crossings, whether they be equipped with crossing arms or not, and visually inspect for oncoming trains.
The Indiana State Police Commercial Motor Vehicle Division has recently received reports from some school districts of their buses being struck in the rear by motorists failing to realize that they are required to stop at rail way crossings.
“It appears that motorists are unaware that the buses are required to stop,” stated Sergeant Chris Kath of the Indiana State Police Commercial Motor Division, “or they are not paying attention to their surroundings and fail to observe the slowing/stopped vehicles.”
Sergeant Kath explained that bus drivers activate their four way flashers when approaching a rail way crossing to alert motorists that they will be stopping. He further explained that bus drivers do not activated the overhead yellow flashing lights, the ones that are activated prior to stopping to allow a child off the bus, because when the driver opens the door to observe for trains, the red stop lights are automatically activated by the opening of the door. Kath stated motorists approaching the bus could be confused and stop on the rail road tracks.
Indiana code 9-21-12-5 states:
A school bus, with passengers, shall stop 50-15 feet prior to the crossing. While stopped, listen through an open door or window, look in both directions for an oncoming train, and can only proceed when it is safe to do so.
Indiana was ranked 4th nationwide in railroad crossing collisions in 2012 with 105 and 4th nationwide in railroad crossing fatalities with 17.
School buses transport Indiana’s most precious commodity and the Indiana State Police are committed to ensuring the safety of those passengers.
Further information and statistics about railroad crossings in Indiana are available on the Operation Lifesavers website at http://oli.org/.
To view your child’s school bus inspection record go to www.in.gov/isp and click on the “Indiana School Bus Inspection Program.”