EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The streets surrounding East Grand Rapids High School were once again filled with buses, walkers, bikers and cars as students returned to the classroom Monday morning.
“It’s much more quiet in the summer and today is a little hectic, especially for the first day,” Pamela Buckley, a resident of East Grand Rapids, said.
Buckley has lived in the area for 22 years and walks the neighborhood near the high school regularly. She said drivers tend to be fairly respectful, but at the beginning and end of the school day, things can get a bit chaotic.
“It’s expected. It happens every year this time, so it’s just typical,” Buckley said.
She said it’s important for both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings when traffic picks up.
“A lot of these kids probably maybe got their license over the summer and they’re learning. We just did the crosswalk there and she inched up over it and then she was like ‘Oh, I’m sorry’ and I’m like ‘No, it’s okay I get it, you know,'” Buckley said. “I think just as a walker or biker you have to be really aware of what’s going on around you.”
Laws that drivers haven’t had to think much about for the past several months will once again have to be front of mind. That includes speed limits in school zones and traffic laws near buses.
In Michigan, drivers should prepare to stop when bus lights begin flashing yellow. When the lights turn red, drivers are required to stop 20 feet away. The only exception is if you are going the opposite way on a divided highway. If the bus has its hazard lights on, proceed with caution.
Anyone who passes a bus illegally could be charged with a civil infraction that can carry a fine between $100 to $500 as well as up to 100 hours of community service at a school. Some districts have or are working to install stop arm cameras, which can allow police to track down the license plate of any car that passes a stopped bus.