Shouldn’t you always stop when a school bus deploys its stop sign and flashing red lights?
The answer to this question surprises some drivers. In most states, drivers should not stop for a school bus:
- If they’re traveling in the opposite direction of the bus on a multi-lane highway
- And if the multi-lane highway is divided by a grass or unpaved median
Drivers in this scenario should keep moving with caution.
Not all states follow this rule. In West Virginia, Mississippi, and New York, for example, drivers should stop any time they see a school bus’s red lights and stop sign — even if they’re on the other side of a grass median. In Arkansas, drivers should always stop unless the unpaved median is at least 20 feet wide. In Florida, drivers should keep moving if the unpaved median is at least 5 feet wide.
State laws change every year, and this post doesn’t offer an up-to-date, comprehensive guide to all state school bus laws. So this month, as school returns to session and buses start to populate your morning commute, we recommend checking your state’s driving manual to find out exactly when you should stop for a school bus.
Of course, if you’re behind a school bus — or if you encounter a bus on a two-lane road or a divided highway with a paved median — you must always stop when the bus deploys its stop sign. There’s no room for debate, in any state’s driving manual, about this.
We’re writing about school bus laws this month because September is an especially dangerous time on the roads as children, teachers, and parents adjust to their new school routines. As you travel near schools and school buses this month, please pay extra close attention to what’s happening around you:
- Avoid looking at your phone.
- Drive a little more slowly.
- Expect the unexpected.
A brief moment of inattention could create a lifetime of pain for a student’s family and for you, the driver, as well.
Here are some more back-to-school driving safety tips to remember:
- Park legally in school zones: Double parking or parking in a no-parking zone reduces visibility for children and vehicles.
- Stop for crossing guards: When a crossing guard enters the street, slow to a stop, even if you don’t see a line of children waiting to cross.
- Yield to pedestrians: Even if pedestrians are not following the law by using crosswalks, always yield to pedestrians in the roadway.
- Leave a little early: Giving yourself a few extra minutes to reach your destination can lower stress, making you a more attentive driver.
At InfraStripe, we’re striving for a safer culture for everyone who uses our nation’s public roads and highways. This includes every student on the way to every school.
You can help by following these guidelines, knowing your state law, and by paying attention on the roads.