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PCS gets proactive on safety

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

Peru Community Schools Transportation Director Dave Frushour talked school bus safety and procedures to the PCS Board of Trustees during their monthly meeting Monday evening.

In light of the Fulton County tragedy in which three siblings were killed at a school bus stop just weeks ago, Frushour said he wants to be proactive with school bus procedures and precautions.

However, in order to make this happen he’s called upon the Peru Police Department for help in keeping students safe as well as catching stop arm violators.

“The police department has just stepped up to the plate,” Frushour said.

The department has already initiated a “STOP reckless driving” campaign in which officers are targeting drivers who fail to stop for school buses with their stop arm extended.

Officers are participating in saturation and undercover patrols to catch and reduce the number of stop arm violators to ensure children’s safety.

“In addition to this, however, our regularly scheduled road officers will continue to provide extra patrols for these violators and other school safety violations (speeding in school zones, etc.) as they always have,” wrote PPD Officer and Traffic Safety Coordinator Keith Smith.

According to Frushour, PPD officers have even been riding home with students on the school bus and, if a car fails to stop for the bus’ stop arm, the officer will radio to their chase car who will go after the driver.

In order to stay in the loop, Frushour also carries a police radio where he can listen to officers going after stop arm violators.

“You can hear them,” Frushour said. “They’re stopping people all the time passing stopped buses so they’re being right up front and proactive with that.”

PPD Chief Mike Meeks has even taken the initiative to send out questionnaires to all of the school bus drivers asking about hot spots in town, how many people pass them a day and so on.

In a PPD press release, statistics from the Indiana Department of Education are referenced in which information states a single day in 2018 saw over 3,000 vehicles passing school buses with stop arms extended.

“We’re lucky that a whole lot more kids aren’t hurt with people passing stop signs,” Frushour said.

In regards to school bus procedures, Board of Trustees President Sharon Shuey had some concerns on who has control over whether a school bus can pull into privately-owned residential entities like mobile home parks.

“It’s up to the driver of the school system or the owner of the property,” Shuey asked.

According to Frushour, it is completely up to the owner of the property whether a school bus can pull into the property.

Because of this Frushour changed his routes so students are picked up on the same side of the road as much as possible.

“We have no kids crossing the highways,” Frushour said.

As far as students living within city limits, Frushour can’t always change the routes due to time restraints, but he assured board members that most of the time there are parents at the bus stops waiting with students.

PCS and PPD both say they are doing their best to take every precaution to keep students safe getting on and off the bus, according to PCS Superintendent Sam Watkins.

“We have absolutely the best staff, bus drivers and director,” Watkins said.