By: Rich Gambrill
Summer has come to an end, and school is back in session. It is important that we are familiar with the traffic laws surrounding school buses. When a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing on alternating sides and most likely has a stop sign extended from the driver’s side, it means that the bus is stopped to load or unload students. The laws for when approaching vehicles need to stop vary from state to state, we will examine the rules of the states where Storti Quality Services currently operates.
You must stop your vehicle at least 20 feet before reaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road, or at an intersection you are approaching. You must remain stopped until the flashing red lights are no longer operating. Watch carefully for children near the school bus and children crossing the roadway before proceeding. You are not required to stop if the bus is traveling toward you on a roadway that is separated by a median or other physical barrier.
You must always stop before reaching any school bus from either direction when it is stopped to load or unload school children except when you are on the opposite side of a highway having four or more lanes, even then proceed slowly.
If a school vehicle has stopped on a roadway and is operating the alternately flashing red lights, the driver of any vehicle following or approaching the school vehicle shall: stop at least 20 feet from the rear of the school vehicle, if approaching the school vehicle from its rear; or at least 20 feet from the front of the school vehicle, if approaching the school vehicle from its front. The driver of any vehicle following or approaching the school vehicle may not proceed until the school vehicle resumes motion or the alternately flashing red lights are deactivated. This does not apply to the driver of a vehicle on a physically divided highway.
If a school bus or a school pupil transport vehicle has its lights flashing and a stop sign extended, you must stop. It is the law. It does not matter which side of the road you are traveling on. Remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back. The only exception to this law is if a school bus has stopped on the other side of a divided highway with a barrier between travel directions. In this case, you do not have to stop.
Whenever you approach a school bus from any direction, which has stopped to pick up or let off passengers while operating its flashing red lights, you must stop your vehicle at least 25 feet from the school bus. The only time you do not have to stop is when you are on the other side of a divided highway. You must stay stopped until the bus has started again or the bus driver stops operating the flashing red lights.
A motorist must stop for a school bus with flashing red lights. State law requires motorists to stop at least 25 feet away if he/she is traveling on a two-lane road or on a multi-lane highway where lanes are only separated by lines or on a privately maintained road. When traveling on a dual-lane highway, a motorist should slow to 10 mph if on the other side of a safety island or raised median. A motorist should only proceed after the bus signals have been turned off, and even then, he/she must watch for children.
When a stopped school bus flashes its red light(s), traffic approaching from either direction, even in front of the school and in school parking lots, must stop before reaching the bus. You should stop at least 20 feet (6 m) away from the bus. This law applies on all roadways in New York State. You must stop for a school bus even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway.
If red lights are flashing on the school bus, the law requires that motorists approaching from either direction come to a full stop and remain stopped until the bus’ red lights no longer flash. This requirement applies not only on public highways but also on private roads and in parking lots.
If for some reason I have omitted a state or if you live in or frequently travel to a state not on this list, I encourage you to visit the website http://www.schooltrainingsolutions.com/state-laws/ for more information. If you are unsure of the rules where you are regarding school buses, when in doubt, just stop. Please continue to be safe and courteous drivers and pay extra attention around when approaching a school bus.