“Every year we have several ‘near misses’ from people disobeying the law concerning stopping for school buses,” said Jerry Womack of the Cedar City Police Department. “It is also important to note that although you may not be required by law to stop when you see a stopped school bus, you should be aware that students will be getting on and off the bus. Children are unpredictable and could run into the road at any time. Use caution as you are driving near school buses and adjust your speed accordingly.”
According to state law, the operator of a vehicle on a highway, upon meeting or overtaking a school bus equipped with emergency lights, must do the following when passing or stopping for a school bus:
When amber warning lights are flashing, the operator of the vehicle must slow the vehicle, but may proceed at a speed not greater than the speed for school zones for the safety of the school children that may be in the vicinity.
When red lights are flashing, visible from the front or rear, shall stop immediately before reaching the bus and may not proceed until the flashing red light signals cease operation.
The operator of a vehicle need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus displaying flashing red light signals if the school bus is traveling in the opposite direction when traveling on a divided highway, the bus is stopped at an intersection or other place controlled by a traffic-control signal or by a peace officer. Also, when traveling on a highway of five or more lanes, which may include a left –turn lane or two way left turn-lane.
In turn, school bus drivers are required to operate flashing red light signals at all times when children are unloading from a school bus to a cross a highway, and when the bus is stopped for the purpose of loading children who must cross a highway to board the bus, or if it would be hazardous for vehicles to proceed past the stopped school bus.
They are also required for a bus operating on a highway to have the headlights of the school bus on.
Violations of not stopping or passing a school bus illegally are a class C misdemeanor and the minimum fine for a first offense is $100. For a second offense within three years of a previous conviction, bail forfeiture is $200, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense within three years of a previous conviction or bail forfeiture.
Parents are also greatly encouraged to talk and teach their children, and asked to stress to their children that even though the school bus is stopped and has its lights flashing, they should make sure they look both ways before crossing in front of the bus.