Keep Our Kids Safe: School Bus Laws For Drivers
Vehicles Must Stop for a School Bus Displaying Flashing Lights
In their rush to get to classes in the morning and home in the afternoon, children sometimes dart into traffic when they get on and off school buses. To prevent a tragedy, motorists need to be extremely cautious when driving near school buses and obey laws designed to protect bus riders.
Drivers must stop on the street or highway 20 feet or more from any school bus that has stopped and is flashing red warning lights.
- This applies both to vehicles approaching from the rear and from the opposing lanes.
- All lanes of traffic must stop for the school bus, except in opposing lanes if the highway is divided with a center median.
- No vehicle may proceed until the bus resumes motion and has turned off the red warning lights.
- The stop arm on the bus is an added communication to other drivers, but the lack of an extended stop arm is not reason to pass a bus whose red lights are flashing.
"Officers from the State Patrol and other agencies stringently enforce laws requiring motorists to stop for school buses with flashing red lights," says State Patrol Superintendent David Collins. "Besides law enforcement officers, school bus drivers legally may report any violations involving passing or turning in front of their buses. The owner of the vehicle, who might not be the offending driver, will then be responsible for paying the citation."
A citation for failure of a vehicle to stop for a school bus costs $312 and four demerit points. A citation for an illegal right turn in front of a stopped school bus costs $312 and three demerit points. If reported by a school bus driver, the vehicle owner's liability for the illegal passing of a bus will cost $312 with no demerit points.
"Violations of school bus safety laws are serious and expensive for a very good reason. Drivers must always be aware that children might not be paying attention and don't see oncoming vehicles when they get on or off a bus." says Superintendent Collins. "As we start another school year, drivers need to remember to stop when they approach a bus with flashing red lights."
For more information, contact Superintendent Collins of the Wisconsin State Patrol Division Headquarters in Madison at (608) 266-3212 or your local State Patrol district office.