Motorists ignoring flashing red lights on school buses

 

IMLAY CITY — Local law enforcement is cracking down on motorists who insist on driving around school buses that have their red lights deployed while making student drop-offs and pickups.

The concern is growing rapidly, according to Imlay City Community Schools Resource Officer Anthony Easlick.

The Imlay City Police Department has released this school bus video showing a vehicle going around the bus while red lights were deployed during a recent student drop-off incident. Police are cracking down on violators, with the assistance of video cameras on all buses, and will be mailing citations to offenders.

“We are getting more and more reports of motorists not obeying the law. They are not stopping for buses that have their flashing red lights activated. We want to be proactive and educate the public, but also advise them that we are issuing citations for known violators,” Easlick told the Tri-City Times.

In an effort to help control the problem, Officer Easlick said all 18 Imlay City/Dryden school buses have been outfitted with video cameras. The cameras are able to videotape approaching vehicles and continue taping as they pass by, giving police an indentification of the vehicle along with the license plate number.

“We have cleared it with the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office, and we are able to issue citations. The footage is giving us good descriptions of the offending vehicles, and it is time and date stamped so we have everything we need to issue the citations.,” the SRO stated.

“If there is an incident, the bus driver will report it to the Transportation Supervisor who in turn will notify us. We will review the footage, gather the information we need, and we will be sending citations in the mail to offenders. We have got to get motorists to pay attention and stop when they see the flashing red lights.”

Officer Easlick said some citations have already been mailed to offenders and more will be in the mail, as reports are made.

Imlay City Superintendent Dr. Stu Cameron said the district had just a handful of buses with these types of (video) cameras, until recently.

He explained, “We are outfitting all of our bus fleet currently with these (video) cameras. To accomplish this, we used funds from a Safety Grant from the State of Michigan (approximate cost for the remainder of the fleet was approximately $28,000), exclusively to purchase and install them.

SRO Easlick added, “Our goal is not to give tickets, it’s public awareness and education,” he said.

“Whether it is distracted driving or motorists just trying to beat the lights on the stopping bus, we are seeing an increase in incidents, and we need to get a handle on this before someone gets hurt.”

Imlay City Chief Brett Selby warned, “Last week we initiated a social media campaign to advise and provide awareness to motorists in the Imlay City School District of the importance of stopping for school buses when the red lights are flashing. We have received several complaints of motorists passing school buses when the red lights are activated, and with the help of cameras on the buses we will be able to positively identify infractions. This week and next, the Imlay City Police Department will be starting a targeted campaign to enforce the Michigan Law on passing school buses.”

According to the Chief, the law states:
257.682 Stopping for school bus displaying flashing red lights; violation as civil infraction; meeting stopped school bus on divided highway; proof; rebuttable presumption; use of stop-arm camera system; definitions.

(1) The operator of a vehicle overtaking or meeting a school bus that 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. The operator 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 is substantially similar to this subsection, is responsible for a civil infraction.

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

The Chief’s full statement regarding the issue of citations to vehicles driving past flashing red lights can be found on our website at https://tricitytimes-online.com/ and our Facebook page.

In the Almont school district, Superintendent Kimberly VonHiltmayer said, “Unfortunately, our buses do not have cameras yet. With that being said, our Transportation Director has expressed concerns about violators moving around buses illegally…definitely a potential safety issue.”

Officials from Capac did not respond to a request for information for this article.