Do I Have to Stop for a School Bus?

You’re rushing, in a hurry, and frantic to make it to that meeting in five minutes. You’re going fast, faster than is legal, and yet you know you haven’t quite made up the lost time. And then it happens-the big yellow bus pulls out in front of you and puts on it’s lights. The stop signs extend from the sides, but no kids seem to be crossing in front of the road. Surely you can go forward as you aren’t posing any danger to the kids. But before you decide to go ahead and move on with your day, let’s make sure you know the facts about this crime.

Stopping for school buses is the right thing to do, but it’s also the legal thing. The reason that drivers are required to give such a wide berth to school buses is because of the risks associated with hitting children. It is far too common, in fact, a few weeks ago a Minnesotan truck driver was charged with two misdemeanors because he almost hit a sixth grader who was about to board the bus. It is almost impossible to see around the entire bus, and children are given right of way to cross the street. If you violate these rights and decide to pass a bus, here’s a taste of what could happen:

  • Jail, fines, and other punishments. Drivers who blow past a school bus that is stopped may be charged with reckless driving, which can carry a possible jail sentence or hefty fines. Reckless driving can also result in suspension of a drivers license for up to a year. In addition to these punishments, one woman in Ohio who drove onto the sidewalk to go around a stopped school bus was sentenced to a “creative shaming” where she wore a sign around her neck stating “only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.” So if you want to avoid being sent to jail, fined, or publicly shamed, do not pass the yellow bus.
  • Loss of driving privileges. In addition to having a license suspended for reckless driving, it is possible that you might have your license suspended immediately simply due to state law. You can apply for a hardship license to travel to work or other necessities, but you won’t have the leisure privileges you once had. And driving with a suspended license can lead to other citations and jail time, in addition to the risk of a permanent revocation.

Some school buses are now equipped with surveillance cameras to record the license plate and GPS location of offenders. The police are working with school districts to catch those who willfully ignore the law and endanger children. So the next time you see those red lights flash and you’re in a hurry, remember that being late one time or having to sit idle for a minute is better than the costs of injuring a child or paying traffic violations. If you have been accused of a bus stop violation or are worried about the safety of your child, call our office to speak with an Austin traffic law attorney and discuss any questions you have.