School bus safety week reminds drivers of school bus laws

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- This week is National School Bus Safety Week and the Insurance Alliance of Michigan is encouraging drivers to get a refresher on Michigan's school bus laws, according to a press release.

“Even though school started almost two months ago, there’s never a bad time for drivers to get a reminder of the rules when it comes to passing a stopped school bus,” said Tricia Kinley, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan. “National School Bus Safety Week is a great opportunity to remind drivers to slow down when they approach a bus with yellow lights flashing and to never pass a stopped school bus if its red lights are flashing.”

Back in 2018, there were 1,073 accidents involving school buses in Michigan, which resulted in 336 injuries and five deaths, according to the release.

Children between the ages of 1 and 15 accounted for nearly 40% of those injuries, according to the release, with the vast majority of those being a passenger in a vehicle.

According to data from Michigan State Police, Wayne County had the most accidents involving a school bus coming in at 22 accidents, followed by Oakland County with 140 accidents, followed by Macomb County with 134 accidents, according to the release.

“Drivers are faced with more distractions than ever when they’re behind the wheel, which is why it’s critically important to watch for a stopped school bus with its lights flashing – and that includes on four lane roads,” Kinley said. “More and more buses are being equipped with cameras to catch drivers dangerously passing a school bus, and bus drivers oftentimes write down the license plate number of any car that illegally passes their bus and report those drivers to police.”

The Michigan State Police shares the following tips for drivers when coming across a school bus:
• 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.
• Watch for children crossing the street between parked cars and other objects.

In addition, U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Todd Young of Michigan, along with U.S. representative Jackie Walorski and Julia Brownley attended a school bus safety technology showcase hosted by the National School Transportation Association to highlight their legislation to prevent motorists from passing school buses stopped at loading zones, according to a press release.

The event, which helped mark School Bus Safety Week, had a school bus equipped with examples of technology used to prevent stop-arm violations, according to the release.

“No parent should ever have to worry about their child being injured or even losing their life while waiting for or boarding their school bus,” said Senator Peters. “We’ve seen a growing number of incidents that pose a risk to the safety of our students and we must take action. It’s time for the Senate to pass the STOP for School Buses Act. I am hopeful that new technologies combined with a comprehensive review of best school bus safety practices will help dramatically reduce these tragic accidents.”

The STOP for School Buses Act would require the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to review and report on existing school bus passing laws and current school bus safety technology, according to the release.

As part of the review, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration would:
• Identify illegal passing laws in every state, including penalties.
• Review the effectiveness of safety technologies and countermeasures.
• Evaluate and recommend best practices for deterring illegal school bus passing.
• Review driver education materials across all states and make recommendations, particularly with respect to new drivers
• Implement a public safety messaging campaign to highlight the importance of school bus safety.

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