As the school buses head back out on the roads this week, school bus safety is today’s topic. All buses have a light system and stop sign arm that all drivers should be aware of. Yet every year the number of stop arm violations have been increasing in Minnesota. According to court records, in 2018, 1,052 citations were written in Minnesota for stop-arm violations. That number was 1,099 in 2017 and 1,130 in 2016. Over the past five years, Minnesota bus drivers have tallied an average of more than 600 violations in a single day. Some of these violations have resulted in close calls.
When motorists come upon a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended, vehicles must stop at least 20 feet away when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads. It’s the law.
“169.444 SAFETY OF SCHOOL CHILDREN; DUTIES OF OTHER DRIVERS. Subdivision 1.Children getting on or off school bus.
When a school bus is stopped on a street or highway, or other location where signs have been erected under section 169.443, subdivision 2, paragraph (b), and is displaying an extended stop-signal arm and flashing red lights, the driver of a vehicle approaching the bus shall stop the vehicle at least 20 feet away from the bus. The vehicle driver shall not allow the vehicle to move until the school bus stop-signal arm is retracted and the red lights are no longer flashing.”
The fine for passing a school bus with the stop sign extended is not to be less than $500. Crow Wing County leads the state in convictions per capita in Minnesota, according to a recent news story in the Post Bulletin. Crow Wing County had 26 citations that lead to 13 convictions in 2018.
We had Lon Schmidt from Reichert Bus Co. in Brainerd join us on the radio last week to discuss the school bus safety concerns.
So when you see the alternating flashing yellow lights, prepare to stop. As the lights go from yellow to flashing red you have to be stopped no closer than 20 feet from the bus. The time to proceed is ONLY when the lights are turned off. Need another visual? The Minnesota Department of Transportation has a video.