West Shore ESD reminds motorists about school bus safety

October 23, 2020

West Shore ESD reminds motorists about school bus safety

West Shore School News is a presentation  of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press/Oceana County Press. 

By Alan Neushwander, MCP/OCP Staff Writer.

October 19-23 is National School Bus Safety Week. The theme of this year’s recognition week is “Red Lights Mean Stop.”

Local school officials are using the week to remind motorists about the laws that have been put in place to keep school children safe as they get on and off the school bus.

In Mason, Lake,  and Oceana counties, 3,081 students ride a school bus, according to Katrina Morris, transportation director at West Shore ESD. Currently, there are 73 buses that operate daily in Mason and Oceana counties. 

The bus drivers frequently see motorists who fail to obey the flashing red lights. 

“On average, we see 17 motorists disobey the flashing red lights on any given day in Mason and Oceana counties,” Morris said. “With 180 days of school, that’s 3,060 times each year that a school bus is illegally passed while loading or unloading students.”

According to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information enter, there were 1,197 crashes involving school buses in Michigan in 2019. Morris said there have been some minor bus accidents locally, but we’ve been fortunate to avoid major accidents or having a child get hit.

“That’s because of our phenomenal bus drivers,” said Morris. “They are trained and pay attention to what’s going on around them. They truly care about our kids. If it wasn’t for our bus drivers, those numbers would be a lot worse.”

Morris said there are a handful of local buses that have cameras mounted on the side of the bus to capture license plate information of violators. But for the most part, the bus drivers attempt to get the license plate number, which is then turned in to the Sheriff’s Office. 

Drivers who pass a stopped school bus may be charged with a civil infraction carrying a fine of up to $250. There is currently legislation pending in Lansing that would raise the fine to $500. Drivers who pass a stopped school bus and cause an injury face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If a driver passes a school bus and causes death, they would be charged with a felony and could face up to 15 years in prison and $7,500 in fines. 

The West Shore ESD reminds motorists that both lanes of traffic must stop for a school bus on a two-lane road. On a four-lane road, all four lanes must stop unless it is a divided highway or a boulevard. If it is divided or has a boulevard, then traffic traveling in the opposite direction does not have to stop.

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This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

 

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