The Refresher A Lot of People Need: Michigan School Bus Safety Laws
The kids are back in school, finally in person, which means we're seeing a lot more school buses on the roads. It seems either people have always been a bit confused as what to do when it comes to sharing the roads with school buses, or maybe after a year without them, some people may have just forgotten.
So, let's go over Michigan's school bus safety laws as a bit of a refresher...because the last thing we need is someone getting hurt over a dumb decision.
Why We Bring This Up
I had thought about writing this article back when schools were having their first few days because I thought people would need a few reminders on how to safely and legally share Michigan roadways with school buses...but then I thought, "Well, who wouldn't know these things?"
Recently, I've been increasingly seeing that assumption was either false and people genuinely do not know...or worse, they just don't care.
Just the other day, it was around 3 PM, I was on my way home and happened to turn down the same road as a local school district's bus and another car following behind it.
The bus made one stop to let some kids off, myself and the car in front of me stopped, but as soon as we began to drive again, the car in front of me attempted to pass the bus, which I guess was legal, but the problem was it was a no-passing zone, at the crest of a hill, putting multiple cars, including the bus, in danger of an accident.
Michigan's School Bus Safety Laws
According to Michigan State Police (MSP), if you are a driver caught passing stopped school buses, you could be charged with "civil infractions." They say these carry a fine with a price tag between $100 and $500, and performing up to 100 hours of community service at a school could also be required.
So what laws could one break here in Michigan that could get them into that kind of trouble?
- Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing
- Stop at least 20 feet away from 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-that indicate children might be in the area
- Watch for children between parked cars and other objects
To put it simply, "School buses are like traffic signals," MSP says.
Just be Courteous, Patient and Alert
At the end of the day, I feel like there are a lot of "unwritten rules" of the roads when it comes to school buses.
Yes, as we have seen laid out by Michigan State Police, there are definite laws in place to make sure drivers respect buses, the drivers and the people who ride them.
However, there are other things, like what the person I noticed the other day did, that just make you look like a jerk and can put countless other people at risk. While some things may not be laws specifically related to school buses, they are ones that may relate to reckless driving, speeding, etc.
There's already a shortage of school bus drivers here in Michigan, let's not make their jobs even harder.
Like it or not, your inability to be patient following a school bus should not put other people in danger...especially children just trying to get to school or get home.
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