When to stop for a School Bus
School Bus Safety
School Bus Stop Laws (clarifying who is required to stop for the school bus stop sign on the roads)
Florence School District One would like to express what the South Carolina Code of Laws states for when a motorist must stop for the school bus.
When traveling on any two-lane road, meaning one lane going in each direction, if the school bus stops and has its red lights flashing and stop arm displayed, then all traffic must stop.
When traveling on any multi-lane road, meaning one or more lanes going in each direction, if you are traveling in the direction with the school bus and the school bus stops and has it red lights flashing and stop arm displayed, then you must stop. However, traffic going in the other direction is not required to stop. There was a modification to this law in August 2003 which changed the multi-lane stops from roads like Palmetto or Irby, which at the time stated all traffic, must stop.
Please be aware, if a driver runs a school bus stop sign in South Carolina, the minimum fine is $1000.00 and a charge of six (6) points on the individual’s driver license. If you are a motorist who travels in other states, you are encouraged to learn school bus stop laws in those states. School bus stop laws do vary from state to state.
School bus drivers cannot deactivate the school bus stop arm until all children have been seated on the bus in the mornings or all students have cleared the unloading area in the afternoons.
Please see text of actual Code of Laws:
SECTION 56-5-2770. Signals and markings on school buses; meeting, overtaking and passing school bus.
(A) The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction a school bus stopped on a highway or private road must stop before reaching the bus where there are in operation on the bus flashing red lights specified in State Department of Education Regulations and Specifications Pertaining to School Buses, and the driver must not proceed until the bus resumes motion or the flashing red lights are no longer actuated.
(B) The driver of a vehicle need not stop upon meeting a stopped school bus when traveling in the opposite direction on a multi-lane highway or multi-lane private road.
(C) The driver of a vehicle must not overtake a school bus which has amber visual signals actuated.
(D) A school bus must be equipped with red and amber visual signals meeting the requirements of State Department of Education Regulations and Specifications Pertaining to School Buses, which must be actuated by the driver whenever the bus is stopped or preparing to stop on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children. A driver must not actuate the special visual signals when the bus is in designated school bus loading or off-loading areas if the bus is off the roadway entirely.
(E) A school bus must bear upon its front and rear plainly visible signs containing the words 'SCHOOL BUS' in black letters not less than eight inches in height.
(F) A school bus route that requires passengers to be loaded or off-loaded along a multi-lane highway or multi-lane private road must be designed to ensure that a student is not required to cross a multi-lane highway or multi-lane private road.
(G) For the purposes of this section a multi-lane highway or multi-lane private road is a highway or private road that consists of four or more traffic lanes, having at least two traffic lanes traveling in each direction.
SECTION 56-5-2780. Penalties for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus.
(A) A driver of a vehicle violating Section 56-5-2770 (A) or (C) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or forfeiture of bail for a first offense must be fined not less than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days. In lieu of imprisonment, the court may require that the individual complete an appropriate term of community service of not fewer than ten days upon terms and conditions the court considers proper. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a first offense for a violation of Section 56-5-2770 (A) or (C) may be tried in magistrate's court. Upon conviction, entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or forfeiture of bail for a second or subsequent violation of Section 56-5-2770 (A) or (C), a person is guilty of a misdemeanor and must be fined not less than two thousand dollars or more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not fewer than thirty days and not more than sixty days.
(B) If a driver of a vehicle violates Section 56-5-2770 (A) or (C), and the violation proximately causes great bodily injury or death to a pedestrian, the person is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or forfeiture of bond, the person must be:
(1) fined not less than five thousand dollars or more than ten thousand dollars and imprisoned for not less than sixty days or more than one year when great bodily injury results;
(2) fined not less than ten thousand dollars or more than twenty-five thousand dollars and imprisoned for not less than one year or more than five years when death results.
As used in this subsection, 'great bodily injury' means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
The department shall suspend the driver's license of a person who is convicted or who receives a sentence upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere pursuant to this subsection for the term of imprisonment plus one year.
School Bus Safety Rules for Motorist
Motorists need to observe traffic safety rules around school buses. Motorists must learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists that they are going to stop to load or unload students:
Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they start driving again.
Motorists should also observe the following traffic safety rules:
When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking to the bus stop or walking or bicycling to school.
When driving in neighborhoods and especially in school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.
Slow Down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
Be Alert and ready to stop. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
This office receives many phone calls each year about waiting on a bus which stops at a railroad crossing and creates a delay for the motorist. However, both Federal and State laws require school buses to stop at all railroad tracks and make certain there is no train before they can cross the tracks. There are situations when a driver stops on the track and if crossing to the other side and stopping at the intersection, the bus may still have the rear end on the tracks, the driver will then have to wait on the tracks until the traffic lights change or the traffic is clear before crossing.