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Michigan Law Allows Flashing Signage on School Buses

Motorists in Michigan will encounter flashing signage on school buses alerting them to come to a complete stop for students who are loading and unloading.

Both houses of the Michigan Legislature passed HB 4054 in mid-December and Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law days before Christmas. It went into effect with the new year.

It refers to a flashing advisory sign connected to the school bus safety lights or hazard lights that is mounted at the rear in a dimension of 23.5 by 8.75 by 1.5 inches. Approved messages are “Caution” and “Stopping” when the school bus amber warning lights activate and “Stop” or “Do not pass” when the red lights activate.

Additionally, “Caution” or “Caution stopping” flash when the school bus is backing up.

All lettering must be at least 1.5 inches tall and the messages must be visible from 500 feet away and in direct sunlight.

A similar flashing advisory sign may also be mounted at the front of the bus below the windshield and vertically centered so it doesn’t obstruct the school bus driver’s view.

A fiscal note attached to the bill said it will cost between $250 and $350 to equip a school bus with the signage, or $5.5 million to equip all school buses across the state for a $4.17 per pupil average.

Rep. Holly Hughes introduced the bill last January in response to the deaths of Bruce and Antonia “Toni” Privacky, a brother and sister who were killed in 2011 when the car they were riding in rear-ended a stopped school bus. She said a 10-district pilot study, which has been presented to all school bus drivers across the state, found that the signage is easy to install.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas already have similar laws in place. Nevada allows for the flashing signage via its school bus standards approved by the state Board of Education.

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