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The rules of the road when you encounter a stopped school bus

You are approaching a stopped school bus. Do you stop or are you ok to drive by?

The answer varies depending on a number of factors, and Bingham County Sheriff Craig T. Rowland said he’s received several complaints lately about drivers making the wrong choice.

Sheriff Rowland said these complaints are mostly happening on Highway 39 where a new turn lane from 500 West to 690 West was added last year.

Rowland believes drivers are confused that since the turn lane is there, they do not need to stop for the school bus with the stop arm out.

This is not correct.

When you are on a roadway that is less than 4 lanes, you must come to a stop when a school bus has activated its red lights and the stop arm is out. See below.

However, if it’s a four-lane road, two lanes in each direction, traffic behind the bus must stop, and vehicles approaching the bus from the other direction on the other side of the double yellow lines may proceed past the bus without stopping. See below.

The Idaho Code that deals with overtaking and passing a school bus reads:

49-1422. OVERTAKING AND PASSING SCHOOL BUS. (1) The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped on the highway shall stop before reaching the school bus when there is in operation on a school bus the visual signals specified in section 49-915, Idaho Code, and the driver of a vehicle shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated. Oncoming traffic on a highway of more than three (3) lanes is not required to stop upon meeting a school bus when visual signals are actuated. Any person found guilty of violating the provisions of this subsection shall be fined an amount of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).
(2) Every school bus shall be equipped with visual signals meeting the requirements of section 49-915, Idaho Code, which shall be actuated by the driver of the school bus whenever, but only whenever, the vehicle is stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children. A school bus driver shall not actuate the special visual signals:
(a) In business districts designated by the department or local authorities;
(b) At intersections or other places where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or peace officers; or
(c) In designated school bus loading areas where the bus is entirely off the roadway.
(3) Every school bus shall bear upon the front and rear plainly visible signs containing the words “SCHOOL BUS” in letters not less than eight (8) inches in height. When a school bus is being operated upon a highway for purposes other than the actual transportation of children either to or from school all markings thereon indicating “school bus” shall be covered or concealed.

Rowland said officers are out working to spot these violations.

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