It is back to school time here in North Carolina. Anxious children are out early in the morning waiting on their buses, and they are eager to get home in the afternoon to report about their day at school. While we all learned the rules when we received our drivers’ licenses about when to stop for a school bus (at least, let’s hope we learned those rules), a refresher around this time of year is always a good idea. You want to make sure you stop when it’s required as penalties for not stopping for a school bus are harsh. Further, not stopping could lead to a serious accident with devastating consequences. So, here are the rules complete with pictures for our visual learners.
BOTH DIRECTIONS OF TRAFFIC MUST STOP FOR A STOPPED SCHOOL BUS:
1. On a two lane road;
2. On a two lane road with a center turn lane; and
3. On a four lane road without a median.
ONLY TRAFFIC FOLLOWING THE BUS STOPS:
1. Divided highway with 4 lanes or more with median separation; and
2. Roadway of four lanes or more with center turning lane.
To summarize, if you are on a two lane road and a bus puts on its blinking red lights and puts out the stop sign, STOP. It doesn’t matter what side of traffic you are on, you have to stop. If you are on a four lane road, and you are behind the bus, you have to stop regardless of whether there is a median or turn lane when the bus puts on the flashing lights and puts out its stop sign. However, you only stop on a four lane road in the opposite direction of the bus if there is no median or turn lane.
If you are more of a visual learner, these pictures with the rules may help you to remember. To learn more about school bus safety and rules, you can visit www.ncbussafety.org. Here are examples for when traffic in both directions MUST stop when a school bus stops for passengers:
And here are examples for when only traffic following the bus must stop when a school bus stops for passengers:
Unfortunately, despite the harsh rules for offenders who do not stop for school buses, accidents still happen. It is important that parents and teachers remind students to use caution at school bus stops. Just because a car is supposed to stop for passengers does not mean that it will. It is also helpful to put children in clothes that can be seen especially if they are out before the sun comes up. And motorist, please SLOW DOWN. Anytime you see a school bus, particularly if it is stopped, there are children around. It takes just a few extra seconds to make sure those kids make it to school and back home safely. Familiarize yourself with the rules and know when to stop. Also pay particular attention in school zones and slow down to the maximum posted speed. Slowing down and staying alert when school buses are around and in school zones saves lives and prevents avoidable injuries.