It’s an average Tuesday morning, and you're in a hurry to get to work on time. Unfortunately, you are now driving behind a school bus which is stopping every 50 yards along its path to pick up students on their way to school. Many drivers flirt with the temptation of driving around and passing the bus, even as the lights begin to flash and the STOP sign comes out. Not only is passing a school bus while it’s stopped and picking up students illegal, it’s extremely dangerous. DriveSafely.net estimates that 50,000 motorists illegally pass a school bus every single day. While a good portion of these drivers make the decision to pass the bus because of a lack of patience, there are many drivers that pass a bus because they are not familiar with the local laws pertaining to school bus safety.
The Michigan State Police (MSP) have outlined how driver’s should react when driving near a school bus, as well as the possible consequences for breaking the law.
School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers:
- Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing
- Stop at least 20 feet away for buses when red lights are flashing, unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway
- Slow down in or near school and residential areas
- Look for clues such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles, and playgrounds which indicate children might be in the area
- Watch for children between parked cars and other objects
The MSP suggests that drivers treat school buses as regular traffic signals. When the overhead lights are flashing yellow, drivers should prepare to stop. If the bus lights are flashing red, stop immediately and do not attempt to pass the bus. When hazard lights are flashing, it is okay to proceed around the bus with extreme caution. The MSP also encourages parents to have a talk with their children about what they can do to stay safe when boarding and exiting the school bus. Children should stay in sight of the bus driver at all times, and always walk around the front of the bus, not the rear. Children are also advised to not hurry off the bus, and make sure that there is no oncoming traffic before crossing the street.
Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law in 2012 which made it illegal to pass a school bus while it is unloading students under any circumstances. Violators of the law could pay a fine between $100 and $500, as well as serve a required 100 hours of community service.
No matter how frustrating it may be to get stuck behind a school bus, there is no excuse for breaking the law and endangering school children. If you find yourself getting stuck behind a bus on a daily basis, it may be best to find a different route to work. If you or somebody you know has a child injured due to a car attempting to pass a school bus, please call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm will work hard to get you any financial support for medical services and any other expenses you may experience, that you may be entitled to under Michigan law. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.