School Bus Safety
When It's Illegal to Pass a School Bus
- Amber (yellow) flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children.
- Passing a school bus when the amber (yellow) flashing lights are activated is illegal.
- Motorists driving behind the bus should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles when the amber lights are activated.
- Motorists approaching a school bus from the opposite direction than the school bus is traveling should reduce their vehicle’s speed to not more than 20 mph and prepare to stop. (The only exception to this is if there are two or more lanes in each direction, which then only the vehicles passing from behind the school bus need to stop.)
Red flashing lights indicate there are students loading or unloading.
- Motorists should use extreme caution during this time as students may be running to or from the school bus.
- Passing a school bus when the red flashing lights are activated is illegal. When the red lights flash and the stop arm extends, drivers in both directions must stop. (The only exception to this is if there are two or more lanes in each direction, which then only the vehicles passing from behind the school bus need to stop.)
Other School Bus Laws
- Passing a school bus in a loading / unloading zone is illegal. This law applies to buses on both private and public property when yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.
- Buses are not required to use flashing warning lights and the stop arm when loading or unloading students at designated loading and unloading zones at a school, extracurricular or educational locations.
- Never pass on the right side of the bus, this is where children enter or exit the bus. This is illegal and can have tragic results.
- Motorists should use extreme caution any time when they are driving near buses in areas where there is a strong likelihood students could be loading or unloading.
- Once the students are discharged or loaded and the flashing lights are turned off and the stop arm is retracted, traffic may return to normal.
Find more information from the Iowa Department of Transportation.
On May 10, 2011, Kadyn Halverson, age 7 of Northwood, was struck and tragically killed by a pickup truck while trying to cross the road to board a school bus. In March 2012, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law Senate File 2218, the "Keep Aware Driving — Youth Need School Safety Act," commonly known as "Kadyn's Law".