School is back in session for most school districts, and thousands of students will be riding the bus. It's a time to really be careful when driving and you approach a stopping or stopped school bus. Why? The kids, of course. But, the age old question pops up every year, when must I stop, or when can I pass.

Did you know in a single school year in Michigan, the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation reports drivers illegally pass stopped school buses with red lights flashing an estimated 111,960 times with a one day average of at least 622! Holy Cow guys, that is stunning!

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Getty Images
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Fox 17 spoke with Hudsonville Public Schools Transportation Director Rob Matthews as he described the worst case scenario all school systems hope to avoid:

“If you're passing that school bus and a little kindergartener runs out in front of you, that's a situation nobody wants.”

To give most drivers the benefit of the doubt, there probably is some confusion. The type of road, two lanes, four lanes, divided, etc., flashing yellow lights on the bus, and flashing red lights on the bus.

School Bus
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When the school bus is preparing to stop and either pick up or let off the kids, the overhead yellow lights will be activated. That is not a sign that you can speed past, but a warning that they will be turning of the red flashers, so treat it as you would any flashing yellow light, slow down and be be ready to stop. You know that lights are going to change to red. And, what does than mean? FULL STOP!

Megan Lee/Unsplash
Megan Lee/Unsplash
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The time you can pass a school bus – cautiously – is when it is stopped and its hazard lights are blinking. Those hazard lights are not the overhead lights.

Now the other big question is what do you do if you are on the other side of the road? Simple rule: if there is no barrier between you and the bus, a median or a wall, you must stop, no matter how many lanes separate you from the bus.

You violate these rules, you get a ticket worth from $100 to $500! Scoff, scoff, you say? Ha! There is a good chance you'll get caught because more and more school buses are equipped with side cameras that automatically capture video of any vehicle passing the bus when the red lights are flashing. The make, model, and license number of the car  can easily be seen and sent to the police. So there.

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Does that help? Hope so, because we sure don't want any tragic accidents between students and cars and trucks!

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