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Police cracking down on drivers who illegally pass school buses

Woman converts school bus onto tiny home
Posted at 4:41 AM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 07:02:48-04

(WXYZ) — As you get around metro Detroit, police are cracking down on drivers who illegally pass school buses.

It's all part of a statewide effort called "Operation Safe Stop” happening during national "School bus Safety Week.”

Here’s a look at the numbers from last year:

  • Police issued nearly 2,100 citations for failing to stop for a school bus.
  • State police say nearly 1,200 crashes involved a school bus
  • 42 people were hurt in crashes involving bus stops.

You might be thinking there's not as many school buses on the roads this year. But police are taking this campaign very seriously.

That's because last year, officers handed out more citations for illegal driving near a school bus than they have in 10 years!

"So the best thing to remember is a school bus is just like a traffic signal," said MSP Lt. Mike Shaw. "If you come on there and you see the yellow lights flashing that means proceed with caution."

An important reminder from Michigan State Police: When you see a school bus flashing yellow lights, prepare to stop.

And if the flashing lights are red, try to stop at least 20 feet away.

"There's some hybrid learning out there, so there are buses on our roads."

Knowing what to do when you spot a school bus is critical to everyone's safety. Sometimes, police say even drivers with good intentions make bad decisions.

"We do see some people that maybe get a little confused or they kind of treat it too much like a traffic signal, and when they see those yellow lights go on, they try to hit the gas so they can get by it before the red lights go on," said Shaw.

And that's exactly what troopers will be on the lookout for this week, with patrols increasing around the state.

Now to another area of confusion: What to do when you see a bus stopping on the other side of the road.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (MOHSP) is spelling out the law.

"If it's a four-lane or a five-lane, if there's a center turn lane, if there's no divider no median, both directions need to stop when the red lights are out," said Jon Ross, an MOHSP Communication Specialist. "If it's a divided highway, if there's a median with trees, rocks, plants or pavement, if there's a curb and it's divided, oncoming traffic does not have to stop."

Operation safe stop runs through the end of the week. The goal of the campaign is to get drivers in the habit of following these important rules.

"We want to keep kids at the school bus stop, whether they're going to school or coming home from school safe as possible and giving those buses some room and kids some room to get on and off the bus," said Ross.

Drivers who pass stopped school buses may be charged with civil infractions carrying a fine between $100 and $500. Violators may also be required to perform up to 100 hours of community service at a school.

Drivers who pass a stopped school bus and cause a death are subject to a felony with either a fine up to $7,500 or up to 15 years in jail.

Drivers who pass a stopped school bus and cause an injury face a misdemeanor charge and either a fine up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail.