Law on school bus flashing lights

With the start of another school year, this topic comes up again: School buses and vehicles running the flashing lights on stops where kids are getting on the buses. It has been brought to our attention at the Michigan State Police Alpena Post that people still do not have a clear understanding of how to properly stop for yellow and red flashing school bus lights. There have been a number of reports from bus drivers stating there are several vehicles running the red flashing lights as they are preparing to allow children off the bus at stops on roadways with multiple lanes. I personally have been contacted by a few of my friends who have witnessed vehicles, including a semi, running school bus lights.

In reviewing the statute in the Michigan Vehicle Code, MCL 257.682 Stopping for school bus displaying

flashing red lights, in subsection “(1) The operator of a vehicle overtaking or meeting a school bus displaying 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 The operator of a vehicle who fails to stop for a school bus as required by this subsection is responsible for a civil infraction.”

In regards to the roadway, subsection (2) states, “if the road is divided into 2 roadways by leaving an intervening space, or by a physical barrier, or clearly indicated dividing sections you are not required to stop upon meeting a school bus that has stopped across the dividing space, barrier, or section.

In the Alpena area, this means no matter what roadway you are traveling on, you must stop for school buses. There are no physically divided roadways in the area. No matter if there are two lanes or five lanes, you are required to stop, or you could be cited with a civil infraction. In addition to the civil infraction, in subsection (4) it states, “under section 907, the judge, district court referee, or district court magistrate may order a person who violates this section to perform not more than 100 hours of community service at a school.”

Within subsection (3), it discusses that in a court proceeding for this violation, “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, constitutes a rebuttable presumption that the registered owner of the vehicle was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation.” This refers to if the person driving appears to be the registered owner, they will be cited with the civil infraction, even if the officer was not there to witness the offense in person. That person then has the right to request a hearing to defend themselves with the district court magistrate. However, with that said, Alpena Public School buses having the new camera system, this will assist the officer in identifying the driver.

This is one of those topics that is so important to everyone who has children or even knows a child on the bus, but people just don’t seem to understand how serious this is. I was on Facebook the other day and saw a video that was posted on NBC25 News from near Westland, MI, on Oct. 1, 2017. The caption on the video reads, “Westland Michigan Police Department has done everything it can to get people not to pass school busses with red flashing lights, and people won’t listen. Then they did this.”

In the video it shows a few cars running school buses flashing lights, and then it shows a pack of about eight police cars rush out of a lot and begin stopping every car that runs the lights! What a great way to get the point across

as I am sure it would catch a number of people’s attention. Hopefully, here in Alpena it does not come to that.

Ashley Simpson is a Community Service Trooper for the MSP Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at asktroopersimpson@gmail.com or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave, Alpena, MI 49707.