Michigan state Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. introduced a bill last month that seeks to amend the Michigan Vehicle code to increase penalties for motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.
S.B. 486 would give Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office the right to suspend driver’s licenses for repeat offenders, as well as to increase fines for first-time offenders from a minimum of $100 to $250 and maintaining the current maximum of $500. The bill would also add a fine for repeat offenders in the range of $500 to $1000.
“The safety of our children is of utmost importance,” Sen. Hertel said. “We need to make sure drivers are aware of their surroundings and know the consequences of their failure to comply with established safety laws. As a father of four school-age children, I know how important it is to ensure that our children are protected.”
The Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation said approximately 860,000 students throughout the state ride the school bus to and from school each day. In March, a driver in Calhoun County hit a 12-year-old boy who was trying to board his school bus that was waiting at the stop with its stop arm extended and amber lights flashing. The boy was critically injured.
Michigan law requires that motorists on both sides of the road come to a complete stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing. The only exception is when there is a barrier dividing the road or highway.
“Drivers need to be educated so they know what their legal responsibility is when they encounter a school bus with flashing lights on,” Sen. Hertel added. “This is a critical public safety issue, and updating the law is just one part of the process.”
The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee at this report.