With school back in session, it’s time for a pop quiz on when drivers are required to stop for school buses.
The first question comes from Drive reader Mohit Jain, who correctly points out that the Minnesota Driver’s Manual says that motorists are not required to stop for a school bus with red lights flashing and stop arm extended if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway.
But what constitutes a separated roadway?
“If we do not have any specific wall or median to separate opposite traffic, but just a double solid line, would it be considered a separated roadway? And am I expected to stop and wait for the bus in the opposite direction?”
On a multilane road without a physical barrier, such as a concrete or grassy median, drivers in both directions must stop for a school bus that has red lights flashing and the stop arm out. For instance, that would be the case on W. 66th Street west of Interstate 35W in Richfield. The road has two travel lanes in each direction separated only by a center turn lane.
On roads like County Road 42 in Apple Valley that feature a raised or physical barrier, such as a concrete or grassy median separating traffic lanes, only drivers heading in the same direction as the school bus are required to stop. Drivers heading in the opposite direction on a separated roadway can proceed but are encouraged to use caution, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Motorists meeting a school bus on roads with one travel lane in each direction must stop 20 feet from the bus when red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended. Drivers are to remain stopped until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm is retracted. The same rules apply on roads with one travel lane in each direction separated by a center turn lane.
Next question: True or false, a driver traveling in the right lane shall yield the right of way to a school bus attempting to enter traffic from a shoulder, right-turn lane, pullout area or other place where the bus had pulled over.
True. Drivers in the right lane have long had to yield the right of way to transit and Metro Mobility buses merging into traffic from a bus stop or shoulder. The law was updated in this year’s legislative session to include school buses pulling back into traffic.
Last month, the DPS released a new video about how drivers should behave around school buses. And it appears many drivers need a refresher.
Over the past five years, police have issued more than 6,500 tickets that come with a minimum fine of $500 to drivers who failed to stop. Penalties rise if a driver passes a stopped school bus on the right or if children are outside the bus. Offending motorists can be charged with a felony if an injury or death occurs.
Beware: Many buses have cameras to record lawbreakers. Bus drivers can also report violations to police. State law allows tickets to be mailed to the owner of a vehicle even if the vehicle’s owner is not behind the wheel.
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