O’Malley introduces bill to make school buses safer.

October 23, 2019

O’Malley introduces bill to make school buses safer.

LANSING — On Tuesday, State Rep. Jack O’Malley, of Lake Ann, was joined by Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole and West Shore Educational Service District Transportation Director Trina Morris, to testify before the Michigan House of Representatives’ Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee in support of his bipartisan plan to improve school bus safety in Michigan.

            “Too many motorists, whether it be distracted driving or improper knowledge of the requirement to stop for a school bus when its stop sign is activated, fail to stop as children are boarding and exiting,” O’Malley said. “This has led to somber stories in many Michigan communities over the years. We can do better, and this plan is an important step in the right direction to improve school bus safety.”

            O’Malley’s plan, the lead measure of a five bill package, defines who is and isn’t allowed on a school bus and installs stiffer penalties for those who board buses without permission.

People who enter a school bus without permission could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable up to 93 days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100. Similarly, a felon entering with intent to do bodily harm could face imprisonment for up to a year and a fine of up to $500 under O’Malley’s measure.

“We’re taking a stand to ensure students are safe on their way to and from school,” O’Malley said. “Through stricter penalties, increased surveillance and further education, our plan is going to significantly reduce the number of motorists who fail to stop for school buses on our roadways.”

Sheriff Cole credited the work of the Mason County School Safety Planning Team for assisting O’Malley in drafting the bill. “The work of the Mason County School Safety Planning Team and our residents is showing the state how to get things done,” Cole said. “It was an honor to address our legislators in Lansing on the importance of protecting our nation’s most precious resource, our children, while on school buses.”

Morris is also the president of the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation.

The other bills in the bipartisan package:

·       Designate “entering a school bus with intent to bodily harm” as a felony punishable by up to one year imprisonment.

·       Require a sticker to be affixed to the side of a bus that reads “Unauthorized persons attempting to board or boarding this school bus are subject to arrest and prosecution.” The sticker has to be affixed on the left side of the service door between the bottom of the window and black rail.

·       Make failing to stop for a school bus a misdemeanor (under current law it is a civil infraction) and allow buses to be equipped with a stop-arm camera system to film evidence of said misdemeanor.

·       Specify what can be recorded by a stop-arm camera.

House Bills 5038-5042 remain in the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee for further consideration.

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