ESD working with partners to pilot additional bus safety measures. 

January 25, 2021

ESD working with partners to pilot additional bus safety measures. 

West Shore School News is a presentation of the West Shore Educational Service District. 

AMBER TOWNSHIP (Mason County) — The West Shore Educational Service District (WSESD) recently partnered with First Light Safety Products, Hoekstra Transportation, the Michigan State Police, and the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation (MAPT) to add a backlit sign to the front and back of two WSESD school buses.  

“The safety of students is top priority, and visibility is a key factor at school bus stops,” said Katrina Morris, WSED transportation director. “The new lighting system will make the school buses more visible to motorists and help keep their precious cargo safe.”

Originally, the collaboration started as a pilot program because of requirements for what is allowable on school buses, but through the course of planning the backlit light is now approved for use, Morris said.

“The West Shore ESD is taking a multi-faceted approach to decrease the number of incidents where motorists fail to stop for a school bus that is stopped with flashing red lights,” Morris said.  “We are educating the public through community events such as Friday Night Live and Family Affair.  At these events, we explain what different lights mean and what the motorists need to do to respond to them.”

State Representative Jack O’Malley (R, Lake Ann) of the 101st district, has been working with Morris on legislation to increase the penalties for drivers who illegally pass school buses with flashing red lights. In addition, the new lighting system adds another safety feature to school buses to help motorists react faster and at a greater distance from the school bus.

“A high number of traffic accidents involve human error and distracted driving is a major contributor to those crashes,” Morris said. “Most violators do not intentionally run the flashing red lights of a school bus. This is typically the result of either distracted driving or not paying attention in general.  The new school bus lighting system increases visibility of the ‘school bus’ sign and makes it easier for motorists to see the sign and react faster at a greater distance from the school bus.

“Northern Michigan roads during most of the school year can be icy and dark.  In addition, West Shore ESD transports students with impairments that require assistance with wheelchair lifts and navigating the steps of the bus, thus increasing the amount of time the bus is pulled off to the side of the road.  The addition of the backlit lights makes it safer for students and motorists, providing an extra level of safety.

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