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Lawmakers look to crack down on drivers passing school buses illegally

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LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - Michigan lawmakers say too many drivers are speeding past school buses that have flashing stop lights turned on.

It’s against the law, and in order to stop drivers from endangering kids, lawmakers say they may hike the penalties.

With kids back in school, drivers need to know that they are threatening the lives of kids if they don’t stop when school buses put on their red flashing lights.

"I've seen plenty of people ignore it over and over again!" said Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing).

Michigan lawmakers see the same impatient drivers that you do.

So they are cracking the whip by potentially increasing the penalties drivers get for passing stopped school buses.

"We are one of the lowest penalties in the Midwest on this specific issue," Sen. Hertel said.

Right now, if you pass a bus with flashing lights, the first fine will cost you at least $100. Senate Bill 528 would increase the minimum penalty to $250. If you passed a bus again, the minimum fine would be $500. But wait, there's more.

If you pass a bus more than once, the Secretary of State's office, under this bill, could suspend your license for up to one year.

"I think at the very least we should be telling drivers what the actual law is because quite often I think it's being ignored," said Sen. Hertel.

Senator Hertel and Republican Rick Jones, of Grand Ledge, are working together to pass the bill in the Senate.

"Several school districts have installed cameras on their buses, and they have pictures of all the different people passing. This is pretty convincing evidence," Sen. Jones said.

But sometimes the red flashing lights can be hard to see if your vehicle is low to the ground.

Representative Holly Hughes (R-Montague) has a bill for that as well.

Her bill would place a big “Do Not Pass” sign on the back of school buses, at the eye level of drivers.

“Actually there was an accident last week, another rear end accident that killed passengers in the car and we want to give them chance to see that they are supposed to stop and possibly save some lives,” she said.

Rep. Hughes’s bill passed the House, and is now in the State Senate where she hopes it passes during School Bus Safety Week in October.

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