STOP! STOP! STOP!

CARS MUST STOP WHEN SCHOOL BUS LIGHTS ARE FLASHING RED. NO EXCEPTIONS.

This morning on the Facebook page, Friends of Dexter, a concerned mother posted:

“I’m usually not one to post here but this warrants it. This morning on Baker rd, 3 cars ran the red lights while I was putting my 5 year old daughter on the bus. No, the bus was not slowing down so they drove by, no, the reds were on for a solid 10 seconds and they sped right past without slowing down at all. For the love of god, PLEASE slow down! Innocent children have their lives put at risk everyday. Again, please slow down and pay attention, that’s my child out there!”

It’s not the first such post about drivers running the flashing red lights of a school bus. It’s frightening. The Facebook post immediate sparked outrage, and rightfully so. Some motorists just don’t seem to be getting the message, or are ignoring it all together. Community members are angry as seen in the comments.

“Call the police, they will sit out there next time.”

“People need to understand the world is about more than them. Someone almost passed me on my driver side as I stopped for middle school kids this morning who were in a cross walk. Seriously if you’re in that huge of a hurry leave earlier.”

“Not sure how they say they can’t see the bus. Ignorant.”

“Little girl in Maryland was hit yesterday and now In medical induced coma.”

“Parents at bus stops… have your cell phone cams at the ready! Get that law breaker on camera with license plate showing, you can make a difference!”

“You should see what people do at my son’s bus stop on North Territorial! It’s in a passing zone so they blow around the bus ignoring the stop sign. It’s infuriating! I know your anger well.”

“What don’t people understand?! It’s been the rule to stop for a school bus whether the lights are on or not for DECADES why is this even an issue! I’ve always stopped since I’ve gotten my license 12 years ago even IF i don’t see the stop sign or lights! THESE ARE INNOCENT KIDS!”

In early October, two Montcalm County school students were hit by a car running the flashing red lights of their school bus. In an interview with Fox channel 17, bus driver Shery Sharns gives a brief, but chilling first-hand account of what happened to the 13-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.

“When it hit, I really thought they were dead,” Shery Sharns said. “[The driver] had plenty of time to stop.” The 19-year-old driver did not stop at the scene and was later apprehended. The children were taken to the hospital and diagnosed with non-life-threatening injuries.

Sharns tells folks that cars running the flashing red lights on a bus happens more often than folks think. “I would say at least one bus out of 15 every day has a car run the lights,” Sharns said.

This incident in Michigan is just one of many in recent weeks. So far this school year, there have been at least six other reports of children being killed or injured when they were struck by vehicles while waiting, boarding, or getting off their school bus.

A survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services shows that on a single day during the 2017-18 school year, 108,623 school bus drivers across the country reported that 83,944 motorists passed their buses illegally. If that is a typical day, it means there are more than 15 million violations by drivers on U.S. roads in a typical 180-day school year.

Compared to other states, Michigan has lighter penalties for failure to stop for the flashing red lights of a school bus. Violators can be fined $100 to $500, possible community service of up to 100 hours at a school and 3 points attached to license. A vehicle owner may be charged with the citation. There is no escalation in punishment for repeated offenses.

By contrast, in South Carolina violators are charged with a misdemeanor with fine up to $500 or imprisonment of 30 days or community service for up to 10 days; second violation is a fine of $2,000 up to $5,000 or imprisonment of 30 days up to 60 days; 6 points on license.

It seems to be a universal problem. Canadian school bus drivers and parents have been calling on the government to take more action to put a stop to drivers endangering children at bus stops. Prince Edward Island is now leading the way. Effective Dec. 8, drivers who fail to stop for the flashing red lights of a school bus will have their license suspended and get smacked with a $5,000 fine. Good job PEI. There are little lives at stake.

Legislators, school officials, law enforcement, community members, the time is right now to increase our vigilance and stiffen the penalties for drivers failing to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights. Children have their whole life of wonderful possibilities before them. What a serious indictment it is on a society that would allow all that to be taken away because someone is running late to work, driving distracted or angry, ignorant, or just unaware.

Maybe action begins with something as simple as asking the other drivers in the house with something like, “Say, do you know you’re supposed to stop when a school bus is flashing red lights? It’s been a problem.

The kids are counting on us.

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