Cost and effectiveness are factoring into Fort Wayne Community Schools' decision to hold off on equipping school buses with extended stop arms to prevent other vehicles from passing school buses.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said in an official opinion that no federal or state laws prohibit the use of the devices. Such opinions don't have the force of law but are generally respected by courts.

Regular school bus stop arms typically extend a stop sign 18 inches from the bus whereas extended arms range from 41/2 feet to 61/2 feet, according to the opinion.

“We're aware that product exists, but we're not looking at adding it at this time,” FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Monday.

Along with the considerable cost involved – FWCS had about 250 regular school buses last academic year – Stockman said the district isn't convinced the longer mechanism would be an effective way to stop drivers from violating the stop arm.

Officials with Southwest Allen County Schools and East Allen County Schools couldn't be reached for comment.

Northwest Allen County Schools considered extended stop arms in the fall but tabled the issue after debating the pros and cons, Superintendent Chris Himsel said Monday.

“It doesn't mean we won't revive it,” he added.

NACS uses other strategies to make bus stops safer for students, including limiting the number of stops that require students to cross a road, Himsel said.
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