Do I have to stop driving when a school bus stops?

Summer is drawing to a close and it will not be long before school buses make their appearance on New York roads, signaling the beginning of the new school year. The increased traffic in neighborhoods and around school zones can make you impatient and you may be tempted to pass a school bus that is at a stop. But is it really worth the risk of receiving a traffic citation for doing so?

Red lights blinking

In New York, if a school bus is stopped and has its red lights blinking, all traffic must also come to a stop a minimum of 20 feet behind or in front of the bus to ensure children can exit and enter the bus safely. This includes traffic coming from the school itself. Contrary to popular belief, it applies to divided highways as well.

Prior to coming to a stop, the bus driver will turn on the bus’s blinking yellow lights. This serves as a warning to other motorists to slow down and come to a stop. Once stopped, you must remain stopped until the bus driver indicates you can go or the red lights on the bus stop blinking.

If you illegally pass a school bus that is at a stop, you could be fined $250 for the initial transgression, $275 for the second transgression within 18 months and up to $1,000 if it is your third transgression within 36 months. You can also lose your driver’s license for six months or more.

Take traffic violations seriously

Traffic violations like failing to stop for a school bus may seem like no big deal. However, just like more serious crimes they can lead to fines that you likely do not want to incur. Fortunately, there are ways you can contest such fines, in order to avoid being unduly penalized.

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