2010-06-21 / Opinion

Get on board behind tougher school bus laws

The yellow school buses have been parked in most school districts in Sanilac County for another year, or else they will by the end of the week.

Next fall when school resumes it may be more costly for people who ignore or deliberately drive around school buses with flashing red lights. In a rural county on which many buses run on roads that carry high speed limits there has always been a concern for the safety of children waiting to board and exit buses.

A bill introduced recently in the Michigan House would double fines for drivers ticketed for disobeying traffic laws within 20 feet of a school bus that is stopped with its overhead reds flashing.

The legislation also would smack violators with up to a year in prison and $1,000 in fines if they cause an injury in a school bus zone, and up to 15 years in prison and $7,500 in fines if a driver causes a death.

Over the last decade, Michigan lawmakers put stiffer penalties into effect for traffic violations in roadwork zones and in school zones.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said the enhanced penalties are needed because too many drivers ignore the laws regarding school buses.

“We’re elevating this to a serious offense,” McMillin said in a press release Monday. “Many people think that’s already the case, but it’s not.”

We agree, and suggest the added penalties may serve as a greater deterrent provided area residents are aware of the it.

A conviction for illegally driving around a school bus currently puts three points on a driver’s record and fines of $250 or more, depending on local court costs. Fines would double under McMillin’s bill.

State law says drivers must stop no closer than 20 feet from a bus that is stopped with its overhead red lights flashing, and stay put until the lights go off and it’s safe to proceed.

A Troy woman received only a ticket and about $250 in fines after she hit two Avondale High School students last fall when she drove around a stopped bus. The teens suffered broken bones, but recovered.

About 800,000 Michigan students use school buses each year, the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation says.

Tougher laws are appropriate to ensure those who violate the law and injure or kill a child while waiting for a bus are appropriately punished.

Return to top

Copyright © 2011-2018 The Brown City Banner, All Rights Reserved