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New School Bus Safety Laws Impact Michigan Motorists

New School Bus Safety Laws Impact Michigan Motorists

As parents and children kick off a new school year , we’re taking the opportunity to remind everyone of Michigan laws related to school bus safety — especially since it has been quite some time since many students actually rode in a bus, or motorists have seen normal numbers of school buses on the road! In particular, we felt it important to alert readers to two new Michigan laws intended to make bus rides to school event safer.

The first of these laws allows law enforcement authorities to use school bus camera video recordings to prosecute individuals who illegally pass stopped school buses. The second prohibits unauthorized individuals from entering a school bus without permission of the driver, and also permits imposing fines up to $500 on individuals who impede the operation of a school bus.

Or course, the old, familiar rules related to stopping for school buses picking up or dropping off kids still apply. To help reduce confusion about those laws, here is a brief refresher for motorists.

Bus Safety Advice for Michigan Motorists

As you probably know, if a school bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students, you must also stop no closer than 20 feet away from the bus.

When you must stop: If you’re on a two-lane road, or even a multi-lane road with a center turn lane, it’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus that has its red blinking lights activated and/or a “stop sign arm” extended. Remain fully stationary until the lights go off and the stop arm retracts.

When you don’t have to stop: If you’re on a divided highway, you don’t need to stopbut only if you’re on the opposite side of travel lanes occupied by the stopped bus. In other words, you’re required to stop if you are traveling in the same direction as the school bus. This helpful diagram is a good visual reference for drivers seeking guidance on when and where stopping for buses is required. The Michigan State Police remind drivers that fines up to $500 will be levied on negligent drivers who disobey these school bus safety laws.

When you should slow down:  If the school bus is displaying its yellow flashers, that’s an indication it is preparing to stop, and is meant to signal to drivers that children are in the area. If the bus driver has activated hazard lights, you should slow down (remember that school buses are legally required to stop at all railroad crossings, so please be patient with bus drivers who are obeying this law for the protection of all our children!).

Safety Advice for Michigan Parents

Coming home from school, especially these first few weeks of the year, is an exciting time for children, and some inevitably forget to check for passing traffic when stepping off the bus. So be sure to remind your kids to look both ways when leaving the bus after school! A heart-to-heart talk now can prevent heartache later.

Also, we want to remind parents that federal COVID-19 guidelines currently require masks to be worn on all public transportation, including school buses. So, whether your children’s school requires masks in the classroom, students must wear masks when aboard the school bus. See this site for specific information on pandemic mask requirements in school districts across the state.

Good Advice for Michigan Students

As noted above, you are currently legally required to wear a mask on the school bus. And your local school might also require you to wear a mask in class. We urge you to follow these rules so students will be able to continue attending school safely in person this year. Yes, we know there are days when school may not be the most thrilling experience in your life, but we also hope you’ll remember how you felt last year when you weren’t able to see your friends— or your favorite teacher’s smiling face. So, stay masked and stay safe this year!

Thoughts About School Bus Drivers

We wanted to send a special note to school bus drivers who have our children’s lives in their capable hands. We realize that you are frontline workers who truly care about kids, and we want you to know that we appreciate your efforts in safely transporting students to and from school every day. Simply put, we appreciate and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We’re also aware that there is a critical shortage of school bus drivers across Michigan. If you or someone you know and trust maintain a good driving record, enjoy dealing with children, and have spare hours in the day, please consider applying at your local school district.

And a Final Word on School Bus Safety …

At Mike Morse Injury Law Firm, we dedicate our lives to helping people who have been injured get back their lives.  The last thing we want is to see a child hurt in a preventable school bus accident. But if that should happen, and your child is somehow injured, our attorneys are experts in dealing with school bus (or any traffic-related) incidents. Please feel free to contact us, our personal injury attorneys can be reached anytime at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946).  Please stay safe — and have a great school year!