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CAUGHT ON CAM: Drivers violating school bus safety laws cited during Operation Safe Stop

Operation Safe Stop is a national school bus safety campaign.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — You may have noticed more law enforcement officers on the roads this week catching violators of the state's school bus safety laws.

The Kent County Sheriff's Office released dash and bodycam video catching the violators in action. Drivers were seen ignoring the flashing yellow lights and big red stop sign and blaring by the bus.

Operation Safe Stop started Monday, Oct. 18 and ended Friday, Oct. 22. Deputies followed random school buses in seven districts, including Byron Center, Kentwood Public Schools, Rockford, Sparta, Cedar Springs, Kent City and Comstock Park. 

"We've been out there for about 40 hours of dedicated patrol," said Sheriff Michelle LaJoy-Young of the Kent County Sheriff's Office. "I don't think people realize how significant these violations can be. You don't know if students are coming from one side of the road or across the street."

Six citations were issued Monday through Thursday, an equal amount to prior years. Many other drivers were stopped for educational purposes. 

According to the sheriff's office, on a two-lane road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop. On a multi-lane paved-across road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop. On a divided highway, vehicles behind the bus must stop; vehicles traveling in the opposite direction should proceed with caution.

A good reminder is to think of a stopped school bus like a traffic signal, according to the sheriff's office. If the overhead lights are flashing yellow, prepare to stop. If the overhead lights are flashing red, stop. If the big red stop-arm is out, stop. Stop-arm cameras are approved and in use on school buses statewide. When the hazard lights are flashing, proceed with caution.

The sheriff said the goal of this operation is not to write citations, but to make sure everybody stays safe.

"My advice is if you don't know the laws, stop anyway, because it's a serious violation for one and it's a very serious safety risk."

If you pass a stopped school bus, you can face a fine up to $500. Drivers who cause death are subject to a felony with either a fine of up to $7,500 or up to 15 years in jail. 

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