From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration & the USDOT website.
The big yellow school bus approaches the intersection of First and Main. Seven or eight elementary school students are waiting near the curb. First the yellow lights come on. Then the school bus comes to a halt. The red lights start to flash. The stop-arm goes out. The school bus driver looks at the traffic behind her and in front of her and thinks, "Will anyone try to pass?"
School buses and motorists. Both have been part of the morning and afternoon landscape for five generations of school children. Although yellow wasn't adopted as the school bus color until 1939, school buses have been around since 1915, about as long as the automobile.
In all that time, there has been an uneasy coexistence between school buses and motorists. School buses make frequent stops to load and unload students. It is the nature of their business. By law, when a school bus stops to drop off or pick up students, motorists must stop too. But motorists often don't want to stop. Motorists want to get where they are going, with little interruption and as quickly as they can.
The act of illegally passing a stopped school bus with red lights flashing is commonly known as a "stop-arm violation." This refers to the stop-sign shaped “arm" that extends from the left side of the bus when the red lights are activated.
IT'S THE LAW
Every one of the 50 States has a law making it illegal to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended that is stopped to load or unload students. However, some motorists simply choose to ignore the law.
- They might be coming toward the bus, decide that no students are crossing the road, and just keep going.
- They might be behind the bus, pull into the left lane, and go around the bus.
- They might be behind the bus, pull onto the shoulder, and pass the bus on the right.
All States require the traffic in both directions to stop on undivided highways when students are getting on or off a school bus. While wording varies from State to State, generally the law requires the following: The school bus driver activates flashing yellow lights to indicate the school bus is preparing to stop to load or unload students. At this point, motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. The school bus driver activates flashing red lights and extends the stop arm to indicate the school bus has stopped and students are getting on or off. At this point, motorists should stop.
From the Penndot website:
PENALTIES If you are convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law, you will receive ALL the following penalties:
60-Day Driver’s License Suspension
Five (5) points on your driving record
Please be aware that school is now in session, plan your day accordingly and use safety as your top priority when operating your vehicle. Stop for the school bus as if it is your child who is at the bus stop. Thank you for keeping our children safe.
Serving the LMSD