Minnesota transportation company adds 'attention-getting' lights to school buses

It's back to school season and that means school buses and students will soon be back on the road.

This year, a local school bus company says they are doing something that’s never been done before in Minnesota, all to keep kids safe.

American Student Transportion is working to pump the brakes on close-call collisions as students get on and exit the bus. Their crews are the first in the state to add safety lighting upgrades to some of their buses.

"They are extremely brighter than the other. There is no way a motorist is not going to see this," said Chelaine Crego.

Crego showed us the flashing amber and red LED lights added around the 20 buses in the pilot program.

The upgraded buses will take kids home on route’s Mounds View Public School District and in Minneapolis. To compare to other buses, the new buses feature the red flashing lights at eye level to catch the eyes of drivers, especially distracted drivers.

"The more you can do to get their lights in their face - literally at eye level - should make them more aware and stop," says Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Brian Reu.

The Minnesota State Patrol says school districts in Iowa and Ohio already use the attention-getting lights. Troopers say in one day alone, bus drivers state-wide reported 625 drivers illegally going through the flashing red stop signs.

“It’s all about school bus safety for these children, and that’s what we’re all about,” said Crego.

Troopers say not stopping for a school bus can cost you at least a $500 fine. Officials say the only exception to stopping for a school bus is if there is a break-in the pavement like a grass median or cement barrier and that’s for drivers going the opposite direction from the bus.