School buses are one of the safest modes of transportation for children. Drivers should understand what the different signs and signals are on a school bus. School Buses are designed with overhead amber warning lights, red stop lights and a stop sign arm.
School Bus Overhead Warning Lights
Overhead amber warning lights are activated when a school bus is preparing to load and unload children. Drivers should be prepared to reduce traveling speed to under 25 miles per hour but also be prepared to stop. Amber warning lights will stay active until school the bus door opens. Once the doors open and children load or unload, the school bus will activate the red stop lights and extend the stop sign arm.
School Bus Red Lights and Stop Sign Arm
The overhead red stop lights and stop sign arm are immediately activated with the bus side door opens. Drivers are required to stop and remain stopped until the red warning lights are off and the stop arm is retracted. You should maintain a reasonable distance from the school bus when stopped for the red lights. The only time a driver may pass a bus that has its red lights and stop arm activated is when you are traveling in the opposite direction on a road that is divided by a median or physical barrier.
When driving around schools and schools buses motorists need to recognize potential hazards as these are places where children are present. Drivers should obey posted speed limits and continue to scan the road ahead as children can dart out in front of a vehicle without warning.
Punishment For Breaking School Bus Law
First time violators of the school bus law could pay a fine of $1,250. Second or subsequent offenses within a five (5) year period, could result in a fine up to $2,000 when convicted. These fines could double in school zones.
As children head back to school this week, drivers should be aware of increased car, school bus and pedestrian traffic. Stay alert and remember to constantly scan your surroundings especially when traveling around a school. Remember to always follow the law regarding warning lights and red lights on a school bus.