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School Bus Stop-Arm Rules: The Basics

School bus stop-arm rules vary from state to state. However, drivers can use some basic common-sense practices to ensure that they are driving safe when school buses are on the roads.

First, slow down and be prepared for the school bus to stop. Above all, understand that the sole purpose of a school bus is to transport precious cargo, our children.

Secondly, school bus stop-arm rules are not just rules… they are laws. The purpose of these laws is to protect children. As a result, BusPatrol has a mission to change the driving culture across America and Canada and encourage drivers to be more aware when they are sharing roads with school bus. In order to do this, the first step is to educate drivers on school bus stop-arm laws.

Let’s start with four basic features of school bus stopping laws that help drivers make the right decisions.

School Bus Stop-Arm Rules for Amber or Yellow Lights on Buses

You probably see school buses on the roads daily. When the amber lights are flashing, the bus driver is signaling that the bus will soon come to a complete stop to let students on or off.

School Bus Stop-Arm Rules for Red Lights on Buses

Drivers must stop if the school bus’s red lights are flashing. Drivers tend to impulsively speed up in an attempt to pass school buses before the arm is fully extended. This is a mistake. While the red lights are flashing, drivers need to bring the vehicle to a complete stop behind the school bus. Drivers who speed past a school bus will not avoid a ticket.

The Stop-Arm

Police actively seek out stop-arm violators. Drivers break the law if they do not stop immediately. It’s similar to driving through a red stop-light in a school zone. The stop-arm is a symbol of trust to the child crossing. Therefore, drivers who ignore the stop-arm violate that trust and endanger children. As a result, cars traveling in both directions must stop. Furthermore, the number of traffic lanes is irrelevant. All traffic must stop for the school bus.

The Median

Sometimes there is a median or physical barrier separating two lanes of traffic in opposing directions. Traffic on the opposite side of the road may be permitted to continue depending on the law in your state.

The Cost of a Violation

Finally, the human cost is most important. Every time a driver violates the stop-arm, he or she is putting a child at risk. Every year, children die from stop-arm violations. Illegally passing a stopped school bus can carry a fine of anywhere between $500 to $1,200. The driver could also lose their license depending on state law.

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