Kent transport

Kent County Sheriff’s Office reminds drivers of new school bus law

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With most schools now back in session, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office is reminding drivers of a new school bus law.

It’s a problem we’ve probably all seen, with school buses dropping or picking up students and being overtaken by busy drivers.

Prior to October 2021, drivers could not be punished for overtaking a bus unless an officer caught them in the act. After the adoption of a new law, everything changed. Police can now use video recordings captured by a school bus when an officer is not present to issue a citation.

“It’s hard to talk about trends right now,” said Sgt. says Eric Brunner. “I think cameras on buses are still relevant. However, we welcome it. This helps us to investigate more deeply.

Districts such as Rockford and Hudsonville Public Schools have cameras on their buses. News 8 has accompanied the Kent County Sheriff’s Office to see if the recent law is making a difference and if drivers are more aware.

“Last year I followed a few different buses, I just followed them for their morning routes, and some bus drivers even get to the point where they almost park their buses on an angle of the roadway, like a force blocking,” Kent County Deputy Sheriff Mike Scalici said.

Deputy Sheriff Mike Scalici follows a bus on its route while discussing recent legislation that was passed to protect children on their way to school and help hold drivers accountable.

Kent County officials are reminding drivers what not to do when approaching a bus stop.

“When you see those red school bus lights flashing, please stop,” Brunner said. “Keep at least 20 feet away from these school buses and don’t try to pass them.”

Brunner said vehicles on a two-lane road traveling in either direction must stop. If you are on a multi-lane road with two-way traffic, you must stop. If you are driving on a separate highway, vehicles behind the bus must stop. Oncoming vehicles should proceed cautiously.

“We’ve trained students not to cross until we give them the signal to cross, but you never know what a first grader is going to do (or what) a kindergartener is going to do. “, Matt Puett, director of transportation for Rockford Public Schools, said.

Brunner said if a driver gets caught passing a bus, they will often issue a warning. However, their top priority is keeping children safe when they return to school.

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