AG Hill says extended stop arms are OK for school buses

Indiana’s attorney general says the state’s school districts are free to use extended stop arms to prevent other vehicles from passing school buses.

Curtis Hill said in an official opinion that no federal or state laws prohibit the use of extended stop arms on school buses.

Such opinions don’t have the force of law but are generally respected by courts.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reported that Hill’s opinion says a state board that sets safety standards for Indiana’s school buses can authorize the use of extra-long stop arms that extend into oncoming traffic.

Extended stop arms are already in use in other states. The official opinion from Hill’s office had been requested by Michael Mentzel, chairman of the Indiana State School Bus Committee, and Indiana Department of Education Transportation Director Michael LaRocco. The opinion addresses liability issues that may arise from the use of extended school bus stop sign arms.

The opinion concludes that permitting or requiring extended school bus arm signal devices “does not raise any additional liability issues. Indiana law prohibits the driver of a motor vehicle from passing a school bus in either direction when an arm signal device is in use,” and therefore a driver who passes a school bus when such devices are in use would bear any liability for personal injury or property damage.

Three siblings were struck and killed last October in Rochester by a pickup truck while boarding a bus that had stopped and lowered its stop arm.

This article was first published by The Indiana Lawyer.

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