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Skip pricey tickets: Don't pass school buses

Passing a stopped school bus is illegal and unsafe.
Passing a stopped school bus is illegal and unsafe.
School Bus – Adapted from image at ClipArtHeaven

Safety is thrifty and smart.

School buses are back on their daily routes, as students are back in school. Perhaps it’s time for a reminder of the rules of the road, especially for drivers sharing thoroughfares with these vehicles.

Across the United States, a driver must stop at least 20 feet away from any school bus that is stopped and displaying its flashing red warning lights. Most school buses also have stop signs protruding from their drivers’ side windows.

Passing a stopped school bus is illegal and unsafe.

This law (labeled as 366.48 in Wisconsin) applies to vehicles traveling in the same direction as school buses and those moving in the opposing lanes. All lanes of traffic must cease moving for a stopped school bus, unless they are separated from it by a definite center median divider.

Solid painted road lines are not considered median dividers.

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Vehicles may not resume moving until a stopped school bus is in motion, with its red warning lights switched off. Even if the driver’s stop sign has been stored, other vehicles must wait until the warning lights are no longer flashing, and the school bus is traveling again.

Unlike the flashing red warning lights, yellow lights on a stopped school bus may indicate other drivers may pass with caution, as passengers are not disembarking at that time.

It is legal to pass moving school buses carefully.

Drivers may be ticketed and fined for passing stopped school buses.

In Wisconsin and lots of other states, a vehicle operator may be cited, even if no police personnel are present. School bus drivers may report such violations directly to local law enforcement authorities.