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School Bus Laws By State: When to stop and when not to!

School Bus Laws

School bus laws vary from state to state. Many drivers are confused about the exact school bus laws in their local area and don’t understand the proper right of way rules. In fact, it is estimated that over 50,000 motorists illegally pass buses every single day in the state of New York alone!. This quick guide will help you determine the exact school bus laws in your state.

School Bus Right Of Way Rules For Non-Divided Highways

In almost all states, it is law to stop for a stopped child carrying bus whether you are approaching or are behind the bus on a non-divided roadway. An exception to this rule is Washington State where you may pass a stopped bus as long as the roadway is 3 lanes or more and you are in an opposing lane. The same holds true in Ohio when a roadway has 4 lanes or more. But in every other state, as long as you are on a non-divided roadway, you must stop for a bus unloading school children.

School Bus Right Of Way Rules For Divided Highways

On a divided highway, you do not have to stop for a stopped school bus, even if the lights are flashing, as long as you are in the opposing traffic lanes. This is true for all states except:

  • West Virginia
  • Arkansas – When the divider is less than 20ft wide
  • Mississippi
  • New York State

School Bus Laws Listed By State

Simply choose your state below to find the exact school bus laws where you live.


Alabama School Bus Laws

Many school buses activate amber flashing lights well in advance of the stop to warn other drivers. Flashing amber lights are a pre-warning that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. In rural areas, the lights are used at least 300 feet before stopping and in municipalities at least 100 feet.

Flashing red lights and extended stop area means that the bus is stopped to either load or unload school children. When approaching from either direction, you must stop at least 20 feet away when you see red flashing lights on a school bus. You can learn more in the Alabama driver’s handbook.


Alaska School Bus Laws

Drivers approaching a school bus from the rear may not pass the school bus when red signal lights are flashing and shall bring their vehicles to a com- plete stop before reaching the school bus when it is stopped. The vehicles shall remain stopped until the stop sign is retracted, the flashing red lights are discontinued and the school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by the driver to proceed.

Drivers approaching a school bus on which the yellow/amber warning signal lights are flashing shall reduce the speed of their vehicles and shall bring the vehicle to a complete stop when the school bus stops, red lights flash, and stop sign is extended. The vehicles shall remain stopped until stop sign is retracted and the red lights are discontinued after which they may proceed with due caution. Driver upon a highway with separated roadways providing two or more lanes in each direction need not stop when approaching a school bus which is headed in the opposite direction even though the bus is stopped and the stop arm is extended and the red flashing lights are activated.

Learn more in the Alaska driver manual.

Alaska School Bus Laws


Arizona School Bus Laws

When approaching a school bus that is picking up or dropping off passengers, you must come to a complete stop before reaching the bus, regardless of your direction of travel. A school bus will have alternating flashing lights and a mechanical stop-sign arm extended while passengers are entering or leaving the bus. You must remain stopped until the school bus moves ahead or until the stop-sign arm and flashing lights are no longer shown. Watch for children crossing the road in front of, or behind the school bus.

You are not required to stop for a school bus on a divided roadway when traveling in the opposite direction. A divided roadway is one in which the road is separated by physical barriers such as a fence, curbing or separation of the pavement. Roadway striping by itself does not constitute a physical separation of the roadway.

The following image is an example of an undivided roadway. You must stop for any school bus with flashing lights if its stop-sign arm is out.

Arizona School Bus Laws Undevided Highway

Below is an example of a divided roadway and you may proceed with caution if the school bus is in approaching lanes but not if it is stopped in your direction of traffic.

Arizona School Bus Laws Divided Highway

Learn more in the Arizona driver handbook.


Arkansas School Bus Laws

When approaching a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing, a driver is required to make a complete stop until the lights are turned off. No matter where your vehicle is positioned with the bus whether it’s in the same lane of traffic, opposing lane or at an intersection, YOU MUST MAKE A COMPLETE STOP!

The driver must never attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and begins moving without its red lights flashing.

Drivers are not required to stop, if the school bus is approaching along an opposite lane of travel separated by a median twenty (20) feet or more in width. School buses are required to stop at all railroad crossings.

Two Lane Roadway: When a school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.

Two Lane Roadway With A Center Turning Lane: When a school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.

Four Lane Roadway Without A Median: When a school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.

Divided Highway With Four Lanes Or More With A Median Separation: When a school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.

Arkansas School Bus Laws Median

Drivers passing a stopped school bus with red lights flashing upon conviction will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. A fine of a minimum of $250 not to exceed $1000, up to ninety (90) days jail and/or both. Drivers who fail to obey this law and cause the death of a person will be charged with a felony.

Isaac’s Law (§5-10-105): A person who violates this law is subject to Class C Felony, for
negligent homicide if he or she negligently causes the death of another person.

Learn more in the Arkansas driver handbook.


California School Bus Laws

Stopped school buses and children crossing the street. Some school buses flash yellow lights when preparing to stop to let children off the bus. The yellow flashing lights warn you to slow down and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing. The law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing (CVC §22454). If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000 and your driving privilege could be suspended for 1 year. If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop. Learn more in the

California driver handbook.


Colorado School Bus Laws

You must stop your vehicle at least 20 feet before reaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road, or at an intersection, you are approaching. You must remain stopped until the flashing red lights are no longer operating. Watch carefully for children near the school bus and children crossing the roadway before proceeding. You are not required to stop if the school bus is traveling toward you on a roadway that is separated by a median or other physical barrier.

Learn more in the Colorado driver handbook.


Connecticut School Bus Laws

You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road, or at an intersection you are approaching. You are not required to stop if the bus is traveling towards you and a median or other physical barrier separates the roadway. After the school bus red lights have stopped flashing, watch for children along the side of the road and do not proceed until they have completely left the roadway and it is safe to proceed. Learn more in the Connecticut driver handbook.


Delaware School Bus Laws

You must always stop before reaching any school bus from either direction when it is stopped to load or unload school children except when you are on the opposite side of a highway having four or more lanes, even then proceed slowly.

Yellow Lights – School buses have two overhead alternately flashing yellow lights both front and rear. They will be activated approximately 10 seconds prior to the overhead flashing red lights to warn drivers of approaching vehicles that a stop to load or unload school children is about to be made. Approach a bus flashing these yellow lights with caution and anticipate a stop. Children may be waiting for the bus or may be running to board it.

Red Lights – The overhead alternately flashing red lights and stop arm will be activated when the bus is stopped to pick up and discharge pupils. You must not proceed until the red lights have stopped flashing, and the stop arm has been retracted, then proceed cautiously.

Delaware School Bus Laws

If any vehicle is witnessed by a police officer, school bus operator, or school crossing guard to be in violation of the school bus stop law and the operator is not otherwise apparent, it shall be assumed that the person in whose name the vehicle is registered committed such violation.

Whoever is convicted of passing a stopped school bus with overhead and stop arm red lights flashing shall, for the first offense, be fined not less than $115.00 nor more than $230.00, or imprisoned not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days, or both. For each subsequent like offense occurring within three years, such person shall be fined not less than $115.00 nor more than $575.00, and imprisoned not less than 60 days nor more than six months.

Upon conviction for passing a stopped school bus with overhead and stop arm red lights flashing, the Division of Motor Vehicles shall suspend the driver license and/ or driving privilege for a period of one month for a first offense, six months for a second offense, or one year for a third or further subsequent violation occurring within three years of a prior violation. A conditional license may be issued following a suspension for a second offense after serving a minimum period of suspension without driving authority of three months. A conditional license may be issued following a suspension for a third or further subsequent offense after serving a minimum period of suspension without driving authority of six months.

No driving authority is permitted during the one-month suspension for a first offense.

Learn more in the Delaware driver handbook.


School Bus Laws For The District Of Columbia

A driver of any vehicle shall stop the vehicle at least 15 feet from a school bus when its warning light is flashing unless the vehicle is on the other side of a divided median.


Florida School Bus Laws

It is against the law for any driver to pass a school bus when the school bus displays a stop signal.

On a two-way street or highway, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a stopped school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. You must remain stopped until the stop signal is withdrawn and all children are clear of the roadway.

If the highway is divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide, you do not have to stop if you are moving in the opposite direction of the bus. Painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers. You must always stop if you are moving in the same direction as the bus and you must remain stopped until the stop signal is withdrawn.

Florida School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Florida driver handbook.


Georgia School Bus Laws

When a school bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children, the driver of the bus will activate flashing yellow lights. When these flashing yellow lights are activated, all drivers approaching the school bus should slow down and be prepared to stop. All drivers should pay special attention to children who may be walking along or crossing the roadway. Once the flashing lights have turned red and the stop signs have extended from the side of the bus, it is unlawful for any vehicle to pass the stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading passengers. On a highway divided by a median, cars traveling on the opposite side from the stopped school bus are not required to stop, however, drivers should remain attentive for children walking along or crossing the roadway.

In most cases, all drivers are required to stop when approaching or meeting a stopped school bus that has its lights flashing and is loading or unloading passengers. The exception to this rule is when highways are separated in the center by median strips. In this situation, only vehicles following or traveling alongside a school bus in the same direction must stop.

A warning will be given in advance by the flashing red or amber lights on the front and rear of the bus. After stopping, you must remain stopped until the bus resumes motion or deactivates its warning signals AND all loading or unloading passengers have cleared the roadway.

Learn more in the Georgia drivers guide.


Hawaii School Bus Laws

Whenever a school bus is stopped on a highway with alternating red signal lamps flashing, the driver of any motor vehicle on the same highway in the lane occupied by the school bus and all lanes adjacent to the lane occupied by the school bus shall stop the driver’s vehicle before reaching the school bus and shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the flashing red signal lamps are turned off. Failure to comply with this law (291C-95, HRS) can cost you $1,000.

Hawaii School Bus Laws

However, vehicles proceeding in the opposite direction on a divided highway are not required to stop. A divided highway is two roadways separated by a strip of land or other space not intended for vehicular travel.

Motorists traveling at the time school buses make their runs should be on the alert. The presence of school children waiting along the roadway in the morning indicates a school bus is in the area. In addition, there is a possibility of waiting for children darting in front of traffic.

Learn more in the Hawaii driver handbook.


Idaho School Bus Laws

Stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading students. On a two-lane road, both following and oncoming traffic must stop and remain stopped as long as the red lights near the top of the bus are flashing and/or the stop arm on the left side of the bus is extended. On a highway with two or more lanes going each direction, oncoming traffic is not required to stop when meeting a school bus.

You must stop when approaching a school bus that is displaying flashing red lights while stopped to pick up or drop off children. You must remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus moves again.

You do not have to stop if you are traveling in the opposite direction on roadways with
four or more lanes if two lanes are going in each direction

Learn more in the Idaho driver handbook.


Illinois School Bus Laws

The only time a vehicle is not required to stop for a school bus is when both vehicles are
on a four-lane roadway and the bus is stopped in the opposite direction from which a driver
is traveling.

Any other time, a driver must stop before meeting or overtaking (passing) a school bus that is
stopped and loading or unloading passengers. This includes:

  • Any two-lane roadway, in rural areas and within city limits.
  • Any roadway, highway or private road.
  • Any parking lot located on school property

A warning will be given by the school bus at least 100 feet (200 feet in rural areas) in advance of a stop. The bus driver will flash lights on the front and rear of the bus. The school bus stop signal arm will be extended after the school bus has come to a complete stop. A driver approaching a school bus from the opposite direction must come to a complete stop and remain stopped until the stop signal arm is no longer extended and the flashing lights are turned off or the school bus driver signals vehicles to pass.

A conviction for passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights and the stop arm extended will result in the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license. If the owner(s) of the vehicle were not driving when the offense occurred, they must provide the State’s Attorney’s Office with the name of the person driving the vehicle or their vehicle registration will be suspended for three months.

Learn more in the Illinois driver handbook.


Indiana School Bus Laws

School buses are equipped with both amber and red flashing lights. When the school bus driver activates the amber lights, he or she is warning other drivers that the bus is slowing and is going to load or unload children. Once the bus stops, the red lights and stop arm will be activated.

You must stop when you approach a school bus with flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended. If you are driving on a roadway divided by a barrier or unimproved median, you are required to stop only if you are traveling in the same direction as the school bus.

The biggest threat to children who ride a bus to school is not the bus ride, but approaching or leaving the bus. When approaching a bus stop:

  • Watch for children playing or congregating near bus stops
  • Be aware that children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking
  • Be prepared to stop when yellow flashing lights appear on the bus, which warn drivers the bus will be coming to a stop

Disregarding a school bus stop arm can be considered reckless driving, a Class B Misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Take note that school buses stop at railroad crossings. Rear-end collisions involving school buses stopped at railroad crossings have increased in recent years.

Learn more in the Indiana driver guidebook.


Iowa School Bus Laws

When you meet an oncoming school bus displaying flashing amber lights, you must slow down to no more than 20 mph and be prepared to stop. If the red lights are flashing or if the stop arm is out, you must come to a complete stop at least 15 feet from the bus. You must remain stopped as long as the red lights flash or the stop arm is out.

The only exception to this is where you are approaching the bus from the opposite direction on a road with at least two lanes in each direction.

When overtaking a school bus, you may not pass when red or amber warning lights are flashing.

After a school bus has stopped to let students off, watch for children on the side of the road.

Learn more in the Iowa driver’s manual.


Kansas School Bus Laws

You must stop when meeting or overtaking a school bus, church bus or daycare bus that is stopped to pick up or let off children. You must remain stopped until the STOP signal is retracted and the red lights are turned off. Traffic approaching a school bus in the opposing roadway of a divided highway is not required to stop.

You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and/or stop arm extended. After the school bus red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm is no longer visible, watch for children along the side of the road and do not proceed until it is safe, after they have completely left the roadway.

You must stop for a school bus when there are two solid yellow lines between lanes of traffic whether the school bus is on your side of the road or on the opposite side of the road.

You must stop for a school bus when there is a center turning lane between the roadways, whether the school bus is on your side of the road or on the opposite side of the road.

You must stop for a school bus when you are on a multi-lane highway, whether the school bus is on your side of the road or on the opposite side of the road.

You must stop for a school bus when you are at an intersection, whether the school bus is on your side of the road or on the opposite side of the road.

You are not required to stop if the bus is traveling towards you and the roadway is separated by a median or other physical barrier.

Learn more in the Kansas driving handbook.


Kentucky School Bus Laws

Where there are school buses, there are usually children. Children are likely to do something
unexpected, so be prepared. When you come to a school or church bus that is stopped on any roadway to load or unload passengers, you must stop. By law, you must remain stopped until all people are clear of the roadway and the bus is in motion. A stop is NOT required when approaching a stopped bus from the opposite direction upon a highway of four or more lanes. However, a stop is required when following a bus that is stopped on a two-lane road or you are going in the opposite direction of the bus on a highway that has less than four lanes, as they are generally not divided.

Kentucky School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Kentucky driver manual.


Louisiana School Bus Laws

You must stop at least thirty feet from a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading children. All 50 states have a law that makes it illegal to pass a school bus that is loading or unloading children. Always be prepared to stop when lights are flashing. Bus drivers will activate the flashing yellow lights of the bus at least 100 feet but no more than 500 feet before the school bus stop. As the bus comes to a complete stop, the flashing red lights and stop signs will activate. Wait for the vehicle to move and scan before starting to drive again. This is required by law whether you are meeting the bus or traveling behind it.

You do not have to stop when the bus is stopped in a loading zone completely off the roadway and where the pedestrians are not allowed to cross the roadway. If you are following a bus, increase your following distance in order to get a better view. Anticipate the bus stopping at its’ pickup and drop off points. Never pass a bus with its red lights flashing on the right or on the left. Buses typically travel at lower rates of speed and make frequent stops. During the school year school buses are most likely to be on the road during a three hour period in the morning and a three hour period in the afternoon.

Louisiana Driving Laws 1

When a school bus is stopped in opposite lanes on a roadway separated by a ditch, grassy median, elevated concrete barrier or any obstacle that prevents traffic from driving thereon, you are not required to stop. Drivers are also not required to stop for a stopped school bus when traveling on four lane or five lane roadways which are separated by a dedicated two-way left turn lane. Drivers must stop on a four lane roadway when it is not separated by a barrier.

Louisiana School Bus Laws 2

Learn more in the Louisiana driver’s guide.


Maine School Bus Laws

Where there are school buses, there are usually children. And children are likely to do something unexpected.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with red lights flashing on school property, on any undivided highway or parking area in Maine. If you are approaching a stopped school bus from either direction, with its red lights flashing, you must bring your vehicle to a complete stop in front or rear of the school bus and wait while children are getting on or off the bus. You must not proceed until the bus resumes motion or until signaled by the school bus driver to do so. Violations carry severe penalties.

Maine School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Maine motorist handbook.


Maryland School Bus Laws

If a school vehicle has stopped on a roadway and is operating flashing red lights, the driver of any other vehicle on the roadway shall stop at least 20 feet from the school vehicle, and may not proceed until the school vehicle either resumes motion or the red lights are deactivated.

Drivers on the opposite side of a divided highway are not required to stop.

Drivers may not obstruct, hinder, or interfere with a school bus driver or individuals providing public transportation.

Monitoring cameras may be placed on county school buses to record other vehicles committing violations relating to overtaking and passing school vehicles.

School buses may not be operated at a speed exceeding 50 mph.

Maryland School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Maryland driver handbook.


Massachusetts School Bus Laws

Yellow school buses have flashing red lights and stop signs that fold out from the driver’s side. School pupil transport vehicles, like vans, station wagons, or family sedans, have flashing red lights and SCHOOL BUS signs on top. Drivers use these warning signals when
letting pupils on and off.

If a school bus or a school pupil transport vehicle has its lights flashing and a stop sign extended, you must stop. It is the law. It does not matter which side of the road you are traveling on. Remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back.

A first violation of this law can cause a license suspension and a $250 fine.

Even after the warning signals have stopped, you should proceed slowly and continue to look for children.

The only exception to this law is if a school bus has stopped on the other side of a divided
highway with a barrier between travel directions. In this case, you do not have to stop.

Learn more in the Massachusetts driver’s manual.


Michigan School Bus Laws

Use extra care around buses and in school zones. Children are small and hard to see and may dart into the street or out from around parked vehicles.

Never drive around a school bus with its red overhead lights flashing; it is picking up or dropping off passengers. It is not necessary to stop for a school bus stopped on the other side of a divided highway, where the road is separated by a barrier such as a concrete or grass median, island or other structures that separate the flow of traffic. See Figure 4.1.

Fines for failing to stop for a school bus are double what would normally be assessed for a moving violation. Increased fines and imprisonment may result for violations resulting in injury or death.

Michigan School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Michigan driver handbook.

Minnesota School Bus Laws

School buses are equipped with yellow and red lights that flash alternately to warn drivers that they are stopping to load or unload students.

Flassing Yellow Lights – Flashing yellow lights will be activated at least 100 feet before a school bus stops in a speed zone of 35 mph or less, and at least 300 feet before it stops in a speed zone of more than 35 mph. It is against the law to pass on the right side of a school bus while it is displaying red or yellow flashing lights.

Flashing Red Lights – Flashing red lights warn motorists that the school bus is loading or unloading students. When a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and its stop arm extended, you must stop your vehicle at least 20 feet from the bus. Oncoming traffic and motorists approaching the bus from behind may not move until the stop arm is retracted and the red lights are no longer flashing. You can be charged with a misdemeanor if you violate either of these laws. The penalty for this violation is a fine of not less than $500, and withdrawal of your driving privileges.

Passing A School Bus – It is illegal to pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing and its stop arm is extended. You are not required to stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing if it is on the opposite side of a separated roadway. A law enforcement officer with probable cause to believe a driver has violated this law may arrest the driver within four hours of the violation.

When a vehicle is used to violate the school bus stop arm law, the owner or lessee of the vehicle is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. However, if the owner or lessee of the vehicle can prove that another person was driving the vehicle at the time of the stop arm violation, the driver — not the owner or lessee — will be charged with the violation.

When you apply for a driver’s license, you must certify, by signing the application, that you understand that you must stop for a school bus and are aware of the penalties for violating this law.

Learn more in the Minnesota driver’s manual.


Mississippi School Bus Laws

Take special care in school zones and when sharing the road with school buses; do everything in your power to protect our children. A school bus is every vehicle owned by a public or governmental agency, or privately owned and operated for compensation; for the transportation of children to and from school.

YOU MUST STOP FOR A SCHOOL BUS, regardless of your direction, whenever the bus is stopped and
receiving or discharging children. You may not proceed until all children have safely crossed the street.

1. (a.) The driver of any vehicle meeting or overtaking any school bus that has stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children shall come to a complete stop at least ten (10) feet from the school bus before reaching the school bus when there is in operation on the school bus the flashing red lights provided in Section 63-7-23, or when a retractable, hand-operated stop sign is extended; the driver shall not proceed until the children have crossed the street or highway and the school bus has resumed motion or the flashing red lights are no longer actuated and the hand-operated stop sign is retracted.

(b.) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway that has four (4) lanes or more, whether or not there is a median or turn lane, need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus that is on a different roadway or when upon a controlled-access highway if the school bus is stopped in a loading zone that is a part of or adjacent to the highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.

2. (a.) A first conviction there shall be fined not less than Three Hundred Fifty Dollars ($350.00) nor more than Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars ($750.00), or imprisoned for not more than one (1) year, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, the offenses being committed within a period of five (5) years, the person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than Seven Hundred Dollars ($750.00) nor more than One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00), or imprisoned for not more than one (1) year, or both. In addition, the Commissioner of Public Safety or his duly authorized designee, after conviction for a second or subsequent offense and upon receipt of the court abstract, shall suspend the driver’s license and driving privileges of the person for a period of ninety (90) day.

If the driver of any vehicle is witnessed by a law enforcement officer or the driver of a school bus to have violated this section and the identity of the driver of the vehicle is not otherwise apparent, it shall be a rebuttable inference that the person in whose name the vehicle is registered committed the violation. If charges are filed against multiple owners of a motor vehicle, only one (1) of the owners may be convicted and court costs may be assessed against only one (1) of the owners. If the vehicle that is involved in the violation is registered in the name of a rental or leasing company and the vehicle is rented or leased to another person at the time of the violation, the rental or leasing company may rebut the inference of quilt by providing the law enforcement officer or prosecuting authority with a copy of the rental or lease agreement in effect at the time of the violation.

Learn more in the Mississippi driver’s manual.


Missouri School Bus Laws

When a school bus stops to load or unload school children, the driver activates the mechanical and electrical signaling devices to notify other drivers of an impending stop. Amber warning lights will flash 500 feet before the bus comes to a designated stop. When the school bus is stopped, the alternate flashing red lights and the stop signal arm are activated. Oncoming and following traffic must stop before they reach the bus when these signals are activated. You must stop:

  • On a two-lane road that is a one-way street.

No driver of a school bus shall take on or discharge passengers at any location upon a highway consisting of four or more lanes of traffic, whether or not divided by a median or barrier, in such a manner as to require the passengers to cross more than two lanes of traffic. The following are situations when you do not have to stop:

When you are traveling the opposite direction of a school bus on a highway divided by a median where the vehicles traveling one direction are on a totally separate road from the vehicles traveling the opposite direction;

  • When you are traveling the opposite direction of a school bus on a
    highway containing four or more lanes of traffic; or
  • When a school bus is stopped in a loading zone (at a school) where
    students are not permitted to cross the roadway.

After stopping for a school bus that is unloading school children, watch for school children walking along the side of the road. You must remain stopped until the bus moves or the bus driver signals for you to proceed. Proceed with caution.

Learn more in the Missouri driver guide here.


Montana School Bus Laws

Let’s give our children a “brake.” Every child is a human caution sign and as unpredictable as Montana’s weather. Upon meeting or passing from either direction any school bus stopped with its red lights flashing, the driver of a vehicle must stop at least 30 feet from the bus and cannot proceed until the red lights are turned off. If you approach a bus from either direction that is slowing down in preparation to stop to load passengers, or a bus displaying a yellow flashing light, you must slow down and proceed carefully. Keep in mind that the bus is about to stop and children may be in the road. You do not need to stop if meeting or passing a school bus that is on a different road or is stopped in an adjacent loading zone where pedestrians are not allowed to cross the road.

When driving past a school, slow down and watch for children DAY and NIGHT. Kids go back to use the playground at all hours. Develop the habit of checking your speed when nearing any school. BE ALERT.

Montana School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Montana driver manual.


Nebraska School Bus Laws

Always be alert for students on or near the roadway when a school bus is stopped.

Nebraska School Bus Laws

Overhead ­Amber ­Warning ­Lights

  • When a school bus is about to stop and load or unload children, the bus
    driver activates amber warning lights.
  • When meeting or overtaking a bus, slow to 25 MPH and prepare to stop.
  • The amber warning lights will stay on until the bus door opens.

­Overhead ­Red ­STOP ­Lights/STOP­ Arm

  • When the bus driver opens the bus door, the red stop lights and STOP arm
    activates.
  • Stop and remain stopped until the bus driver retracts the stop arm and deactivates the red warning lights.
  • Stop a reasonable distance from the bus.

When ­You ­Must ­Stop

  • Not stopping when approaching or overtaking a school bus which has stop
    lights on and the stop arm extended is unlawful. The only exception occurs
    when approaching a school bus in the opposite direction on a roadway
    divided by a median.
  • topping is required in the following situation:

School Bus Laws Nebraska

Learn more in the Nevada drivers handbook here.


Nevada School Bus Laws

Nevada School Bus Laws

You are required to stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students. NRS 484B.353 requires a driver to stop at any location for a school bus displaying a flashing red light signal. You may not attempt to overtake or proceed past the school bus until the bus driver has turned off the flashing red lights. There is one exception to this rule: on divided highways, you are only required to stop when you are traveling in the same direction as the school bus. Nevada law allows school bus drivers to report violations to the school district and the Department of Motor Vehicles. When this occurs, the registered owner of the vehicle will be sent a warning letter explaining the seriousness of the violation.

Learn more in the Nevada Driver Handbook.


New Hampshire School Bus Laws

A school bus is a vehicle that can be identified by large “School Bus” signs on the front and back of the vehicle, or a yellow bus marked with the words “School Bus” in black letters.

Whenever you approach a school bus from any direction, which has stopped to pick up or let off passengers while operating its flashing red lights, you must stop your vehicle at least 25 feet from the school bus. The only time you do not have to stop is when you are on the other side of a divided highway.

You must stay stopped until the bus has started again or the bus driver stops operating the flashing red lights. You may meet a school bus traveling with flashing yellow lights. This means that the school bus is about to stop and operate its red lights, so you should slow and be ready to stop.

Always use great care when approaching a stopped or slow-moving school bus. The bus is a warning that children are in the area and may suddenly run into the road.

Learn more in the New Hampshire driver’s manual.


New Jersey School Bus Laws

A motorist must stop for a school bus with flashing red lights. State law requires a motorist to stop at least 25 feet away if he/she is traveling on a two-lane road or on a multi-lane highway where lanes are only separated by lines, or on a privately maintained road. When traveling on a dual-lane highway, a motorist should slow to 10 mph if on the other side of a safety island or raised median. School buses are equipped with yellow (or amber) and red flashing lights. The yellow (or amber) lights go on before the bus stops and the red lights go on when the bus has stopped.

However, a motorist should not depend on these lights, if driving behind a school bus. They could be malfunctioning. When a school bus stops, all motorists traveling behind or approaching the bus must stop their vehicles at least 25 feet away. A motorist should only proceed after the bus signals have been turned off and even then, he/she must watch for children or persons who have developmental disabilities.

New Jersey School Bus Laws

If a school bus has stopped directly in front of a school to pick up or let off children or persons with developmental disabilities, a motorist may pass from either direction at a speed of no more than 10 mph.

Learn more in the New Jersey driver manual.


New Mexico School Bus Laws

You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road or at an intersection, you are approaching. You are not required to stop if the bus is traveling towards you and the roadway is separated by a median or other physical barrier. After the school bus red lights have stopped flashing, watch for children along the side of the road and do not proceed until they have completely left the roadway and it is safe to proceed.

Learn more in the New Mexico driver guide.


New York School Bus Laws

When a stopped school bus flashes its red light(s), traffic that approaches from either direction, even in front of the school and in school parking lots, must stop before it reaches the bus. You should stop at least 20 feet (6 m) away from the bus. You can identify this bus by a “SCHOOL BUS” sign, the red lights on the top and its unique yellow-orange color.

Before a school bus stops to load or discharge passengers, the driver will usually flash warning lights, which are located on the front and back of the bus near the roof. When you see them, decrease speed and be prepared to stop.

When you stop for a school bus, you cannot drive again until the red lights stop flashing or when the bus driver or a traffic officer signals that you can proceed. This law applies to all roadways in New York State. You must stop for a school bus even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway.

After you stop for a school bus, look for children along the side of the road. Drive slowly until you have passed them.

Safety Tip: Most school bus-related deaths and injuries occur while children cross the street after being discharged from the bus, not in collisions that involve school buses.

Remember that vehicles that transport disabled persons can be equipped as school buses and you must stop for them as you would for other school buses.

The fine when you pass a stopped school bus ranges from a minimum of $400 for a first violation to a maximum of $1,500 for three violations in three years. If you are convicted of three of these violations in three years, your driver license will be revoked for a minimum of six months.

Learn more in the New York drivers handbook.


North Carolina School Bus Laws

The maximum speed limit for a school bus is 45 mph. School bus drivers travel more than half a million miles and transport almost three-quarters of a million children each school day. During the hours that school buses are operating (generally 7 – 9 a.m. and 2 – 4 p.m.), drivers should be especially careful. When a school bus displays its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights to receive or discharge passengers, the driver of any other vehicle approaching the school bus must stop and not attempt to pass the school bus until the mechanical stop signal is withdrawn, the flashing red lights are turned off and the bus has started to move.

Children waiting for the bus or leaving the bus might dart out into traffic. Even when the school bus is not in sight, children at a bus stop sometimes will run into the street unexpectedly. Always be careful around school buses and school bus stops.

Below are specific rules for a variety of situations involving stopped school buses:

Two-lane roadway: When a school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.

North Carolina School Bus Laws 1

Two-lane roadway with a center turning lane: When a school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.

North Carolina School Bus Laws 5

Four-lane roadway without a median separation: When a school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.

North Carolina School Bus Laws 4

Divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation: When a school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.

North Carolina School Bus Laws 3

Roadway of four lanes or more with a center turning lane: When a school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.

North Carolina School Bus Laws 2

Learn more in the North Carolina driving handbook.


North Dakota School Bus Laws

When a school bus is stopped and flashng its red lights, drivers approaching from both directions must stop. This is because children are being loaded or unloaded. The drivers cannot proceed until 1) the bus begins moving; or 2) the bus driver signals to let vehicles pass; or 3) the red lights are no longer flashing. When a school bus is equipped with yellow caution lights, these lights may be used as a warning that the school bus is about to stop and that the red fl lights will soon come on. Be especially alert every time you see a school bus.

Learn more in the North Dakota driver’s license manual.


Ohio School Bus Laws

When a school bus is stopped on a roadway to pick up or drop off passengers, the following regulations apply to other drivers on the roadway.

1. When a school bus driver is preparing to stop the bus, he or she activates four amber lights – two on the front and two on the rear of the bus. These lights continue to flash until the bus is fully stopped. Other vehicles are not required to stop during this preliminary stage of the eight-light warning but should prepare to stop as soon as the bus comes to a full stop. When the bus comes to a complete stop, the amber lights stop flashing and four red lights – two in the front and two in the back – start flashing while the children enter or leave the bus. In addition, a stop arm with flashing red lights is automatically extended beneath the window on the left side of the bus.

2. If the bus is stopped on a street or road which has fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching the bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus begins to move or the bus driver signals motorists to proceed.

3. If the bus is stopped on a street or road which has four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bus must stop.

School bus drivers believing a motorist has unlawfully passed the stopped bus will, if possible, report the license plate number to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the area where the alleged violation occurred. The law enforcement agency will attempt to determine the identity of the driver, and if the identity is established, the reporting of the license plate number by the school bus driver establishes probable cause upon which to issue a citation. Failure to establish the identity of the driver will result in the enforcement agency sending a warning letter to the registered owner stating that a motor vehicle registered to the owner was reported as having unlawfully passed a stopped school bus.

Learn more in the Ohio BMV driver handbook.


Oklahoma School Bus Laws

Drive carefully and be ready to slow down and stop when you are near a school bus. If you approach a bus with flashing red lights and/or showing a red “STOP” sign, it means that children are getting on or off the bus and you must stop.

Fines are doubled for failing to stop for a school bus with red loading/ unloading lights flashing.

Oklahoma School Bus Laws

You must stop and remain stopped until:

  • the bus has started moving, OR
  • the driver motions for you to proceed, OR
  • the red flashing lights go off and/or the sign is pulled back.

You DON’T have to stop for a school bus when:

  • the bus is on a different roadway, OR
  • the bus is stopped in a loading zone by a controlled-access highway where
    pedestrians are not allowed to cross.

Learn more in the Oklahoma driver’s manual.


Oregon School Bus Laws

Oregon School Bus Laws

School buses have flashing amber and red lights near the top of thebus on the front and rear. They may be equipped with a stop arm that extends from the bus near the driver’s window when the red lights begin to flash.

Flashing amber lights warn traffic that the bus is about to stop on the road to load or unload children. Prepare to stop. When the red lights flash, stop before reaching the bus and remain stopped until the driver turns off the flashing red lights.

If you are on a divided highway with two roads separated by an unpaved median strip or barrier, you must stop only if you are on the same side of the road as the bus.

A painted median strip or turn lane does not create two separate roads. In this case, all lanes of traffic must stop.

Learn more in the Oregon driver manual.


Pennsylvania School Bus Laws

Pennsylvania has special rules you must follow when you drive near a school bus. These rules protect children and drivers.

When a school bus is preparing to stop, its amber (yellow) lights will begin flashing. When the bus stops with its red lights flashing and its stop arm extended, you must stop at least 10 feet away from the bus whether you are behind it or coming toward it on the same roadway or approaching an intersection at which the school bus is stopped. Remain stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm has been withdrawn, and the children have reached a safe place (see picture below).

Pennsylvania School Bus Laws

ALL VEHICLES MUST STOP! Failure to stop for a school bus with a flashing red light and extended stop arm will result in a 60-day suspension of your driver’s license, five (5) points on your driving record and a fine.

There is only one exception to the school bus stopping requirement. If you are approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended and you are driving on the opposite side of a divided highway, (i.e. concrete/metal barriers, guide rails or trees/rocks/streams/grass median), you do not have to stop. Reduce your speed and continue driving with caution.

School Bus Stopping

Learn more in the Pennsylvania driver manual.


Rhode Island School Bus Laws

If red lights are flashing on the school bus, the law requires that motorists approaching from either direction come to a full stop and remain stopped until the bus’s red lights no longer flash. This requirement applies not only on public highways but also on private roads and in parking lots. A fine of up to $300 and/or suspension of your driver’s license for a period up to thirty (30) days will be imposed for the first violation of this law. Penalties increase for subsequent violations. Motorists do not have to stop for the flashing red lights of the school bus when the bus is opposite your vehicle on a divided highway. A divided highway is any roadway with a Jersey barrier, grass, guardrail, trees, water, etc. between the lanes of travel in opposite directions. There is no need to stop your vehicle if a school bus is in a loading zone.

Rhode Island School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Rhode Island driving manual.


South Carolina School Bus Laws

You must stop for a stopped school bus with flashing lights that is loading or unloading passengers. This is required by law whether you are meeting the bus or traveling behind it under the following conditions:

  1. On any two-lane highway.
  2. On any four-lane or multi-lane highway only when traveling
    behind a school bus.
  3. When passing a school bus that has red or amber signals flashing.

Sourth Carolina School Bus Laws

Drivers are required to stop for a stopped school bus when driving on a two-lane road. You must stop for a stopped school bus with flashing lights that is loading or
unloading passengers.

You Do Not Have to Stop:

  1. When the bus is in a passenger loading zone completely off the main travel lanes and when pedestrians are not allowed to cross the roadway.
  2. A driver of a vehicle need not stop upon meeting a stopped school bus when traveling in the opposite direction on a multi-lane highway or multi-lane private road. A multi-lane highway or multi-lane private road is defined as a highway or private road that consists of four lanes, having at least two traffic lanes in each direction.

You must always stop on any highway when you are behind the bus. When you have stopped, you must not proceed until the bus moves or the driver signals to you that the way is clear, or the red lights are no longer flashing.

South Carolina School Bus Laws Divided Highway

When on a four-lane or multi-lane highway, traffic behind a stopped bus is required to stop. Traffic on the other side of the highway does not have to stop but should slow down and pass with caution.

Learn more in the South Carolina driver guide here.


South Dakota School Bus Laws

The operator of a motor vehicle on a two-lane highway or a private road meeting or overtaking a school bus on which the amber warning lights are flashing shall reduce the speed of his/her vehicle to not more than twenty miles per hour and proceed past the school bus with caution. When the operator of a motor vehicle approaches a school bus on which the red signal lights are flashing, the operator shall bring the vehicle to a complete stop not closer than fifteen feet from the school bus and shall remain stopped until the flashing red signal lights are extinguished. The operator of a motor vehicle on a highway providing two or more lanes in each direction need not stop when he meets a school bus which is traveling in the opposite direction even though the school bus is stopped and its red signal lights are flashing. The operator of a motor vehicle on a highway providing two or more lanes in each direction shall stop when he approaches a school bus traveling in the same direction when the school bus is stopped and its red signal lights are flashing.

Learn more in the South Dakota driving handbook.


Tennessee School Bus Laws

Meeting A School Bus:

Any driver meeting a school bus or church bus on which the red stop warning signal lights are flashing should reduce his speed and bring the vehicle to a complete stop while the bus stop signal arm is extended. The vehicle must remain stopped until the stop arm is pulled back and the bus resumes motion.

Overtaking A School Bus:

Any driver approaching a school bus or church bus from the rear shall not pass the bus when red stop warning signal lights are flashing. The vehicle must come to a complete stop when the bus is stopped. The vehicle must remain stopped until the stop arm is pulled back and the bus resumes motion.

School Bus Warning Lights:

It is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload students. Never pass on the right side of the bus, as this is where the children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results. You must stop and remain stopped until:

  • The bus has started moving, OR
  • The driver motions for you to proceed, OR
  • The visual signals are no longer activated such as the red
    flashing lights go off and/or the stop arm is pulled back.

Yellow Flashing Lights:

When the yellow lights on the front and back of the bus are flashing the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

Red Flashing Lights

When the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended this indicates that the bus HAS stopped and that children are now getting on or off the bus. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they start driving again.

When a school bus is stopped at an intersection to load and unload children, drivers from ALL directions are required to stop until the bus resumes motion (as shown by the red vehicles in the diagram at right). It is a Class A misdemeanor and the driver can be fined between $250 and $1,000 for not stopping for a stopped school bus. When driving on a highway with separate roadways for traffic in opposite directions, divided by median space or a barrier not suitable for vehicular traffic, the driver need not stop, but should proceed with caution. A turn lane in the middle of a four-lane highway is NOT considered a barrier, but a fifth lane that is suitable for vehicular traffic. Drivers meeting a stopped school bus on this type of road would be required to stop in both directions.

Learn more in the Tennessee drivers license manual.


Texas School Bus Laws

School Bus Laws In Texas

You must yield the right-of-way to school buses. Always drive with care when you are near a school bus. If you approach a school bus from either direction and the bus is displaying alternately flashing red lights, you must stop. Do not pass the school bus until:

  1. The school bus has resumed motion;
  2. You are signaled by the driver to proceed; or
  3. The red lights are no longer flashing.

It is not necessary to stop when passing a school bus on a different road or when on a controlled-access highway where the bus is
stopped in a loading zone and pedestrians aren’t permitted to cross. A person who fails to obey the law regarding yielding the rightof-way to school buses displaying alternating, flashing lights is subject to the penalties listed in Table 17.

Texas School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Texas driver handbook.


Utah School Bus Laws

If a school bus is displaying alternating flashing red light signals, visible from the front or rear you need to stop immediately before reaching the bus. Do not proceed until the flashing red lights stop.

If you are traveling on a divided highway having four or more lanes with a median separating the traffic, it is only necessary for the vehicles traveling in both lanes behind the school bus to stop, and not the traffic traveling in the opposite direction. If you are traveling on a two-lane roadway, traffic in both directions are required to stop. If you are traveling on a four-lane roadway without a median, traffic in both directions are required to stop. If you are traveling on a highway having five or more lanes and having a shared center turn lane, it is only required for the vehicle in both lanes behind the school bus to come to a complete stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction are not legally required to stop.

Learn more in the Utah driver handbook.


Vermont School Bus Laws

It is against the law to pass a school bus which has stopped and has its red warning lights on. Never pass from any direction when the red lights are on.

When a school bus is on the highway and is about to pick up or discharge students, the school bus driver activates the alternately flashing yellow lights and begins slowing down. You should be preparing to stop. After the bus has stopped, the driver will activate the alternately flashing red warning lights. Once the red warning lights have been activated you must stop your vehicle.

Remember, even in a schoolyard, you must not pass a stopped school bus with its alternately flashing red warning lights activated. There are a few exceptions where a stop is not necessary. You do not have to stop on a divided highway if the school bus is traveling in the opposite direction. A concrete barrier may be used to separate traffic from the bus, and you are not required to stop. In Vermont, if you are found guilty of passing a stopped school bus with its warning lights on, you will be subject to a substantial fine and five points on your driver license.

Learn more in the Vermont drivers license manual.


Virginia School Bus Laws

In the following pictures, the red vehicles must stop and remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus moves again.

Virginia School Bus Laws

You must stop for stopped school buses with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign when you approach from any direction on a highway, private road or school driveway. Stop and remain stopped until all persons are clear and the bus moves again.

You must also stop if the bus is loading or unloading passengers and the signals are not on.

You do not have to stop if you are traveling in the opposite direction on a roadway with a median or barrier dividing the road and the bus is on the opposite side of the median or barrier. However, be prepared for unexpected actions by persons exiting the school bus.

Learn more in the Virginia driver’s manual.


Washington School Bus Laws

You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road or at an intersection you are approaching. You are not required to stop for a school bus with red lights flashing when the stopped school bus is traveling in the opposite direction and the roadway:

– has three or more marked traffic lanes,
– is separated by a median, or
– is separated by a physical barrier.

You should never pass a stopped school bus on the right-hand side.

After the school bus red lights have stopped flashing, watch for children along the side of the road and do not proceed until they have completely left the roadway. The risk of injuring a child crossing the road is increased during the loading and unloading of a school bus. Be alert for children that may try to return to the bus after unloading.

Fines are doubled for anyone that passes a stopped school bus. The penalty for failing to stop for a stopped school bus may not be waived, reduced, or suspended.

You must yield to any transit vehicle (bus) that has signaled and is pulling back onto the roadway.

Learn more in the Washington state driver guide.


West Virginia School Bus Laws

School buses are responsible for safely transporting children to and from school. When approaching a bus, please observe the following rules:

  • On all highways, streets, parking lots, private roads or driveways, traffic in both directions must stop before reaching a school bus that has its red lights flashing which is receiving or discharging students. You may not proceed until the bus resumes motion, or signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer actuated.

Only on Interstate Highways does traffic coming toward a school bus stopped on the other side of the median not have to stop.

  • You must also stop for a stopped school bus which is receiving or discharging students on school property or private property. The penalty for passing a stopped school bus is a minimum of 30 days driver’s license suspension and a minimum fine of $150 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses have increased penalties. If the identity of the driver of a vehicle that passes a stopped school bus cannot be ascertained, the owner or lessee of the vehicle in violation is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to fines.

Learn more in the West Virginia driver’s license handbook.


Wisconsin School Bus Laws

Wisconsin School Bus Laws

You must stop a minimum of 20 feet from a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing. You must stop whether the school bus is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road or at an intersection that you are approaching. After the school bus red lights have stopped flashing, watch for children along the side of the road. Do not go until they have completely left the roadway.

Divided highways (roadways): Unless signs say otherwise, you are not required to stop for a school bus if you are driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway.

School Bus Laws In Wisconsin

Learn more in the Wisconsin motorist handbook.


Wyoming School Bus Laws

When meeting or overtaking, from either direction, a stopped school bus with flashing red lights. The driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the flashing red lights are no longer activated.

Exception: You may pass a school bus with activated flashing red lights, only if there is a physical barrier or separate roadways between your vehicle and the school bus. You MUST use extreme caution, however, watching for pedestrians.

Wyoming School Bus Laws

Learn more in the Wyoming rules of the road guide.


Page last updated on July 21, 2019