Drivers Ignoring School Bus Stop Signs

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The wheels on the bus go round and round, but they also stop often.

It's never fun getting stuck behind a bus before or after school, but it's even worse to go around one, and the Grand Ledge community is concerned for the safety of its students.

Grand Ledge police say they already have three reports of people driving past stopped buses, and that's more than they usually get during the whole school year. The distracted drivers aren't always teens, though.

"When there's a bus flashing, I've seen several cars not stop, not slow down," said Kim Stanley, whose daughter rides the bus. "Maybe they're on the phone, I'm guilty. I do it. I don't text, but I do talk on the phone, and you don't pay attention."

The principal at Hayes Middle School said he's seen it happen right outside the school, but he's also concerned for students living in rural areas.

"Some of those country roads, the visibility is really poor, and a lot of times adults are in a hurry to get to work, and they think that they can time it so that they can pass," said Principal Christopher Groves. "They don't realize those kids are coming from quite a distance."

Grand Ledge Police said the solution is easy. People should treat those flashing lights on a bus like a stop light: yellow means slow down, and red means stop at least 25 feet away, no matter which direction you're traveling or how many lanes of traffic there are.

"Wait, completely stopped until the lights turn off, and then you can proceed with the bus and with the traffic flow," Sgt. Chris Blievernicht said. "Sometimes the bus may pullover depending on the situation allowing you to pass, but otherwise they're going to go back into the flow of traffic, and just follow behind them."

He said the only time a car can pass a stopped school bus is when it's on the other side of a median. There has to be concrete or grass between the bus - a turning lane doesn't count.

Even though police are monitoring bus stops, they said they don't actually have to witness a stop arm violator in order to issue a hefty ticket.

"This one is a rare code like an accident or drunk driving, where we can investigate, and if we can corroborate the bus drivers' statements, then we can seek charges and have the ticket issued," Blievernicht said.

Police get some help from school bus video cameras - footage can be used to find someone who illegally passed a bus. The 25 feet around either side of the school bus is considered a temporary school zone, so a $250 fine for passing a stopped bus turns into $500 because the fine is doubled in that zone.

"Five seconds, ten seconds, isn't going to make a difference when we get to work," Principal Groves said. "But those kids, they're not paying attention, and we have to be the responsible adults and make sure that we're obeying the traffic signs and the bus signs and things like that and that our kids are safe."

Grand Ledge Police said they will keep monitoring the situation.

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