Lawmakers seek to increase fines and penalties for motorists who disregard a school bus displaying flashing lights
LANSING – State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing) and State Representative Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) have introduced Senate Bill 472 and House Bill 4867 which will amend the Michigan Vehicle Code to further protect children who ride buses to school.
“The most important issue is the safety of our children,” Sen. Hertel said. “We need to make sure drivers are aware of their surroundings and know the consequences of their failure to comply with safety laws. As a father of four school-age children, I know how important it is to ensure that our children are protected.”
The legislation would increase penalties for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus displaying its stop signals. It would also allow the Secretary of State’s office to suspend the license of a driver with multiple offenses.
“The driving public has never been more distracted than they are today,” said Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth. “We ask that drivers use caution when approaching a school bus and drive like their loved one is getting on or off the bus.”
On the morning of Holt Public Schools’ first day of school, Wriggelsworth pulled over three drivers, including a drunk driver, for failing to stop for a school bus with its lights on.
“It’s not the child’s job to make sure they get to school safe,” said Wriggelsworth. “It’s the driving public’s duty to all do our part each and every mile every day to ensure every child makes it to and from school safely.”
Nearly 18,000 buses transport 860,000 students to and from school daily statewide, according to the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation. Alarmingly, more schoolchildren are hurt outside school buses than inside as passengers. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2006 to 2015 show that 301 school-age children died in school transportation-related crashes.
In March of 2015, a young boy from Calhoun County was hit by a driver while attempting to get on the bus. The bus had its red flashing lights on as well as its stop arm extended, but still the motorist did not stop.
“This is a statewide concern, and I’ve witnessed it in my own community. When parents are calling us to tell us they’re concerned about transporting their children to school safely, something needs to be done,” said Rep. Hertel. “We need to update the law, and we need to do a better job educating new drivers on how to respond to stopped school buses on the road.”
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