According to the Illinois State Board of Education, “Children are at greatest risk when they are getting on or off the school bus. Most of the children killed in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, five to seven years old, who are getting on or off the bus. They are hit by the school bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus.” Are you aware of what to do when approaching a stopped school bus? You should be—a child’s life could depend on it.
Is it Illegal to Pass a Stopped School Bus in Illinois?
Yes, it is illegal and a traffic violation to pass a stopped school bus on a two-lane roadway when a school bus is flashing its red lights and/or a stop arm is extended. When a stopped school bus is flashing its red lights are, this means that it is taking on or dropping off passengers. Drivers in either lane are required by law to remain at a stop until the stop sign has been retracted and the flashing red lights are switched off. It’s important to note that yellow flashing lights indicate that the school bus is preparing to stop, and drivers should prepare to stop their vehicles as well.
The only time a vehicle is not required to stop for a school bus is when both vehicles are on a four-lane roadway and the bus is stopped in the opposite direction from which a driver is traveling.
What Does it Mean When a School Bus is Stopped with Red Signal Lights Flashing?
You must stop before meeting or overtaking a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers on a two-lane roadway. A warning will be given at least 100 feet (200 feet in rural areas) in advance of a stop.
- The bus driver will flash amber and red lights on the front and rear of the bus.
- The stop signal arm will be extended after the school bus has come to a complete stop.
- You must then come to a complete stop.
- You must remain stopped until the stop signal arm is no longer extended and the flashing lights are turned off or the driver signals you to pass.
On a four-lane roadway where a bus is stopped in the opposite direction from which you are traveling, you are not required to stop your vehicle but you should drive with caution.
Fines & Penalties: Illegally Passing a Stopped School Bus in Illinois
Incurring fines and penalties are never ideal. You could face suspension of your driver’s license or vehicle registration for 3 months and be required to pay a minimum $150 fine if you are convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus.
School Bus Safety Resources by State
Stay Alert for Children in the Area
Even when the red lights and the stop sign have been deactivated, there could still be children in the vicinity. Children do not always act predictably and have been known to unexpectedly dart across the road. For this reason, drivers should exercise extreme caution and care when driving in school zones or around a stopped school bus.