As schools all over town open their doors to welcome the kids back into the classrooms, there are a few important things to remember when it comes to school buses and school zones. School being back in session means it’s not just time for students to hit the books; it’s also time for drivers to be watchful for students as they walk to school and as they ride the bus.
When the school bus is flashing its red lights, or the stop arm is extended, you must stop your vehicle because it could signal that some children are getting on or off the bus. State law mandates that drivers who pass a stopped school bus can be fined between $100 and $500 as well as up to $100 in court costs. In addition, violators may be required to perform up to 100 hours of community service at a school.
Even when a bus is traveling on a two-lane road and stops to pick-up or drop-off students, the vehicles in both lanes of traffic are required to stop. Cars should stop at least 20 feet before reaching the bus to allow students to cross the road safely. When traveling on a four-lane road with two out of the four lanes traveling in the opposite direction of the bus, drivers heading in the same direction must stop. If a bus is traveling on a one-way street, all cars must stop, regardless of the number of lanes of traffic.
Michigan law requires all school buses to stop at railway crossings, regardless of whether there are students on board. Vehicle behind the bus should never try to cross the train tracks until the bus has cleared the tracks. Once the bus crosses the tracks, make sure there is room for your vehicle to clear the tracks completely before proceeding. That way, if the school bus makes a stop after crossing the tracks, the car following the bus won’t get trapped on the tracks until the bus moves.
Remember when the yellow warning lights are flashing on a school bus, drive with caution and be prepared to stop. Bus drivers activate their yellow lights to indicate the bus is slowing down and preparing to stop. Two final thoughts to remember as students head back to the classrooms: School zones are 25 mph, and never text and drive.