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When to Stop for School Buses

Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Michigan State Police reminds drivers of the importance of stopping for school buses and the penalties for drivers who don't.

This week I spent three days at the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Lansing receiving updated training in patrol techniques, officer safety, legal updates and a host of other topics.

One of the many things which makes law enforcement interesting to me is the profession is always changing. And being in law enforcement for 32 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes to help officers do their job better. Besides, who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? 

Speaking of learning new things, everyone knows school is in session and there have been many messages asking drivers to be aware of children walking to and from school and to obey the law regarding school buses. Let’s make this a year with no issues regarding school students traveling to or from school.

That being said, I would like to make everyone aware of the law regarding school buses and how drivers should react when school buses activate their lights and pick up students. I also want to advise drivers of a couple unique sections of the law regarding drivers who violate the stopping for school bus law.

 Michigan law regarding school buses

MCL 257.682 is specific to a driver’s responsibilities regarding school bus issues.  

“(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking or meeting a school bus which has stopped and is displaying 2 alternately flashing red lights located at the same level shall bring the vehicle to a full stop not less than 20 feet from the school bus and shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated. “

“At an intersection where traffic is controlled by an officer or a traffic stop-and-go signal a vehicle need not be brought to a full stop before passing a stopped school bus, but may proceed past the school bus at a speed not greater than is reasonable and proper, but not greater than 10 miles an hour and with due caution for the safety of passengers being received or discharged from the school bus.“

“The driver of a vehicle who fails to stop for a school bus as required by this subsection, who passes a school bus in violation of this subsection, or who fails to stop for a school bus in violation of an ordinance that complies with this subsection, is responsible for a civil infraction.”

“(2) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway which has been divided into two roadways by leaving an intervening space, or by a physical barrier, or clearly indicated dividing sections so constructed as to impede vehicular traffic, need not stop upon meeting a school bus which has stopped across the dividing space, barrier, or section.

Let me explain what is meant regarding “divided into two roadways.”  It is not necessary to stop for a school bus stopped on the other side of a divided highway where the road is separated by a barrier, such as a concrete or grass median, island, or other structures that separate the flow of traffic. On five lane roads where there is just a left turn lane, vehicles are required to stop on both sides of the road.

“(3) In a proceeding for a violation of subsection (1), proof that the particular vehicle described in the citation was in violation of subsection (1), together with proof that the defendant named in the citation was, at the time of the violation, the registered owner of the vehicle, shall constitute in evidence a presumption that the registered owner of the vehicle was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation.”

Section (3) is one of the unique portions of this law.  The officer can issue the citation for violating the school bus law to the “registered owner” of the vehicle.  Even if the registered owner wasn’t driving the vehicle they could still receive the citation.

“(4) In addition to the civil fine and costs provided for a civil infraction under section 907, the judge, district court referee, or district court magistrate may order a person who violates this section to perform not to exceed 100 hours of community service at a school.”

Section (4) is also unique because it allows the court to order a person who violates this law to perform community service at a school.

This could be true, “the person who gets into a cage full of lions impresses everyone except a school bus driver”

If you have a question, please send it to askatrooper12@gmail.com or mail it to the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post, 4803 S. Old US-23, Brighton, MI   48114.

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