Police patrols focus on motorists illegally passing school buses

These are Michigan's school bus laws.
These are Michigan's school bus laws.(WNDU)
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 2:10 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Police across Michigan are ramping up patrols this week for motorists illegally passing stopped school buses when their red lights are flashing and stop arms are out.

The effort is part of Operation Safe Stop, which continues through Friday.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning says nearly 2,100 motorists statewide received tickets for failing stop for a school bus, which is the most in a decade. Michigan State Police reported nearly 1,200 crashes involving school buses last year, including 114 at bus stops and 42 injuries.

Last May, 1,373 bus drivers taking part in a one-day survey reported 508 instances of motorists passing them illegally.

“We learn it as kindergarteners: red means stop. It’s as simple as that,” said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. “Even with remote learning happening throughout the state, buses are still on the road. When you see the flashing lights, stop.”

Drivers are required to stop whenever they encounter a school bus with the red lights flashing on any street or roadway. The only exception is for buses traveling in the opposite direction on a divided highway.

Tickets for passing a bus illegally carry a fine of $100 to $500 and up to 100 hours of community service, which would be performed at a school. Drivers who pass a school illegally and cause death face up to 15 years in prison while drivers who pass illegally and cause injury face up to a $1,000 fine or one year in jail.

“Every time a driver ignores the flashing lights or stop arm of a bus, they are putting a student’s life in danger,” said Kellie Dean, president and CEO of Dean Transportation.

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