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In our continuing blogs on safety and stop arm installation we find that two recently introduced bills in Michigan and a proposed bill in Ohio call for harsher penalties for drivers who pass a stopped school bus.

In the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) most recent survey of a one-day count of illegal passers that was released earlier this summer, the results showed that at least 17 million stop-arm violations occur each school year across the U.S. The number is likely much larger, as only about a quarter of all school bus drivers in 39 states participated in the voluntary survey.

Now, two states are introducing harsher penalties for motorists who illegally pass a school bus when it is stopped with red lights flashing and stop-arm extended, in the hope of  reducing the number of illegal passers.

The bills specify that each secretary of state can suspend a drivers license for up to a year if a motorist is found in violation of the laws—and based on the number of driving violations the driver has accumulated. The proposed bills also call for increased fines for motorists who pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing.  The bills also require that motorists who pass a school bus will be fined $250 for a first offense. Any subsequent offenses could cost Michigan drivers between $500 and $1,000.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, Mayor James Graven reportedly announced that he plans on proposing similar legislation later this month to the Olmsted City Council.  The new penalty would increase the fine from $500 to $1,000 if you pass a school bus with its stop-arm extended.

Distractions seem to play a major role in the violations, as well as being in a hurry and being ignorant of the laws. It’s good that states are recognizing this problem and taking steps to correct it.

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