Back-to-school safety: Laws about passing school buses on roadways

Back To School

Last updated at 5:45 a.m.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As families prepare for the back to school season, it is important to remember the rules of the road to ensure students get to and from school safely.

One of the most important rules is when a driver can or cannot pass a school bus on the road. Do you know the answer?

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, drivers should always use caution when driving near or behind a school bus. However, when to stop or not to stop depends on the type of road you are on.

If you are driving on a two-lane road…

  • Vehicles traveling in both directions must stop. Drivers must remain stopped until the road is clear of children and the school bus stop arms are withdrawn

If you are driving on a multi-lane paved road…

  • Vehicles traveling in both directions must stop. Drivers must remain stopped until the road is clear of children and the school bus stop arms are withdrawn

If you are driving on a divided highway with an unpaved space, raised median or physical barrier in between each direction…

  • Vehicles behind the bus must stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction must proceed with caution.
  • The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop, is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic. However, drivers should still slow down and use caution when students are getting on or off the bus

If you illegally pass a school bus on the road, here are some of the penalties you might face:

  • Moving violation subject to citation
  • Requirement to complete a basic Driver Improvement Course
  • Four points on your driver license
  • Minimum fine of $165, if you pass on the side where children enter and exit, you will receive a minimum fine of $265

Here are some school bus safety tips for motorists from FHSMV:

  • Be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses and in school parking lots
  • Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present in school zones and residential areas
  • Pay extra attention to lower speed limits in school zones
  • Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards
  • Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school
  • Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arms extended

Here are some school bus safety tips for parents and children:

  • Arrive at the bus stop with about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive
  • At bus stops, children should wait in a safe place away from the road. Never sit on the roadway or curb while waiting for your bus
  • Make sure your children know their bus driver’s name and bus number
  • Tell children to never speak to strangers at the bus stop or get into the car with a stranger. Children should tell parents, the bus driver and a teacher at school if a stranger tries to talk to them or pick them up
  • Children should never walk behind a bus and should stay away from bus wheels at all times. When the bus stops, children should wait for the driver’s signal that it is safe to cross the road or board the bus
  • Children should look both ways before crossing the street- look left, right and left again. Tell them to make eye contact to make sure the bus driver can see them as they cross the street
  • On the bus, children should remain seated at all times and keep the aisle clear. Tell children not to put their head, hands or arms out the window
  • Remind children to stop talking and remain silent when the bus comes to a railroad crossing so the driver can hear if a train is approaching
  • Children should avoid any loud or disruptive behavior that could distract the bus driver from safely operating the bus

For more information, please visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles‘ website.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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