KNOW WHEN IT IS SAFE AND LEGAL TO PASS A SCHOOL BUS
As school buses return to the streets this week, the Ankeny Police Department would like to remind motorists of the rules for when it is safe and legal to pass a school bus.
• Passing a school bus when the amber (yellow) flashing lights are activated is illegal. Amber flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists driving behind the bus should slow down and prepare stop their vehicles when the amber lights are activated. Motorists approaching 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 (see infographic below).
• 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. (see infographic below)
• Any time a school bus is stopped with red flashing lights activated and the stop arm extended, 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 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 a designated loading and unloading zones at a school, extracurricular or educational locations. 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.
• 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.
• 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.
School bus drivers will report motorists who are in violation to law enforcement and law enforcement will investigate the incident. If the investigating officer has reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred, the officer will issue a ticket to the driver of the vehicle or the registered owner of the vehicle if the identity of the driver cannot be determined. Fines for passing a school bus start at $250. If the driver is convicted of the charge, there is a mandatory 30 day license suspension, a reinstatement fee and the driver may be required to re-test with the DOT to get his/her driver’s license back. Violators may also be required to purchase SR-22 high risk vehicle insurance. Questions? Call the Ankeny Police Department at 515-289-5240.
Infographic provided by the Iowa Department of Transportation: