by JACQUIE FASE
Director of Transportation
Rockford Public Schools
Spring is in the air and new life abounds. With the warm weather comes a renewed spirit for all. Bus loads are lighter as more students become new drivers. The young drivers are hitting the roads, enjoying their new adult responsibilities, and they are excited! Although most of them have been transported back and forth to school via bus for most of their lives, they may not fully understand the significance of the school bus lighting system. There can be much confusion among all drivers-young or old, experienced or beginner. State guidelines are in place that school bus drivers must adhere to. I hope the following explanation of the guidelines will help clear up any confusion you or your new driver may have.
MCL 257.1855 regulates school bus stops and associated procedures. The following list contains highlights of that statute:
- There are two types of school bus stops permitted in Michigan: (1) alternately flashing overhead red/amber lights stops, and (2) hazard lights stops.
- The two types of school bus stops are further broken down to four types of stops:
1. Overhead flashing lights stop-pupils ARE required to cross the roadway;
2. Overhead flashing lights stop-pupils ARE NOT required to cross the roadway;
3. Hazard lights stop-maximum allowable speed for the street is 35 mph; and
4. Hazard lights stop-there is no speed consideration.
- All overhead lights stops require the bus to be clearly and continuously visible:
1. If the maximum allowable speed is 35 mph, the bus must be clearly and continuously visible for a distance of at least 200 feet from the bus stop;
2. If the maximum allowable speed is over 35 mph, then the clear and continuous distance requirement increases to at least 400 feet.
- At overhead lights stops where pupils have to cross the roadway, the school bus must stop completely on the roadway.
- At overhead lights stops where pupils do not have to cross the roadway, the school bus may pull off the roadway as far as practicable.
- At overhead lights stops where the stop is a combination of both types (pupils crossing and not crossing the roadway), the bus must stop completely on the roadway.
- No school bus stops are allowed within 50 feet of any intersection controlled by a traffic signal.
- No school bus stops are allowed within 200 feet of any intersection without the approval of the school administration or transportation contractor.
- All hazard lights stops require approval from the school administration or transportation contractor (though considered legal, Rockford Public Schools strictly limits hazard lights stops).
- Hazard lights stops cannot be used where pupils are required to cross the roadway.
- Rules pertaining to clear and continuous visibility do not pertain to hazard lights stops.
- Under hazard lights stops for situations where the speed limit is 45 mph or less, the term “allowing traffic to flow” means that traffic must have the ability to legally maneuver around the school bus which is stopped on the roadway. In addition, as it pertains to this type of stop, the phrase “pulled to the far right of or off the roadway or private road” means that the bus may pull to the right and either remain completely on the roadway or pull off the roadway.
- Under hazard lights stops for situations where the speed limit is over 45 mph, the phrase “leaving the normal traffic flow unobstructed” means that the bus must not stop where any portion of the bus is on the roadway and impedes traffic. Simply stated, the bus must be completely off the roadway.
We’re looking forward to a great rest of the school year. If you have any questions concerning this or any other transportation procedure, please contact me at (616) 863-6328 at your convenience.