Legislation Could Increase Penalty for Illegally Passing a School Bus

School districts are catching drivers ignoring their flashing bus stop signs, ultimately putting kids’ lives in danger.

Districts say it’s a growing problem but with cameras on the buses, they are making sure careless drivers are not getting off the hook.

“We have maybe two or three a week,” said Tyson Burch, the director of transportation for Traverse City Area Public Schools.

Two or three drivers zooming by stopped school buses, putting kid’s lives at risk.

“Thirty to 40% of students are crossing the road at stops,” said Burch.

Kids come off the bus and usually have to wait for a wave from the bus driver to give them the clear that it is safe to cross.

The stop signs are up but when people cross they’re just seeing those students at the very last minute.

“And that’s when the danger really happens,” said Burch.

TCAPS started installing outside cameras about four years ago.

“The camera that would catch you with the stop sign, the cameras right here and it points backwards to the cars passing the bus this way,” said Burch. “There’s also one out the front window if you were to pass the bus going the opposite direction.”

The school has tons of videos saved of drivers ignoring the red, flashing lights and passing by.

“These cameras really help us help the police officers determine who ran the red lights. It’s really proof they ran the red lights because the camera also sees the stop arm out,” explained Burch.

State Representative Jack O’Malley sponsored a bill to raise the fine for ignoring those lights and signs from $100 to $500.

The legislation is currently in committee.

“If you injure a child or worse yet kill a child, you’ve got to live with that for the rest of your life,” said O’Malley.

He says lights or not, drivers should be cautious.

“When you see that big yellow bus, stop thinking about other things and watch what’s happening,” said O’Malley.