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What State Law Has to Say About Stopping for School Buses

Given their precious cargo, it can be safely argued that one of the vehicle types around which motorists should always exercise the utmost caution is school buses. However, statistics show that this doesn’t always happen.

Indeed, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 327 children lost their lives in school-transportation-related accidents from 2004 to 2013, and that 54 of these children were riding in school transportation vehicles like buses.

While state law is expressly written to provide extra protection for school buses and their occupants, many accidents still occur as motorists either blatantly choose to disobey these laws or just don’t fully comprehend them.

In light of this reality, it’s perhaps important to take a moment to revisit what the law here in Tennessee has to say concerning the obligations of motorists when a school bus comes to a stop.

Meeting an oncoming bus on a two-way street: When a driver is approaching a school bus coming from the other direction and sees that the lights are flashing red, they must stop their vehicle and remain idle for as long as the bus stop signal arm is extended. Once the stop arm is pulled in and the school bus resumes forward momentum, a driver is free to proceed.

Meeting an oncoming bus from behind on a two-way street: When a driver comes up from behind on a slowing school bus and sees the flashing red lights activated, they must stop their vehicle and remain idle for as long as the bus stop signal arm is extended. Once the stop arm is pulled in and the school bus resumes forward momentum, a driver is free to proceed.

Meeting a school bus at an intersection: Any driver at an intersection who encounters a school bus unloading or picking up children — i.e., the lights are flashing red and the bus stop signal arm is extended — must stop their vehicles and remain idle for as long as the bus stop signal arm is extended. Once the stop arm is pulled in and the school bus resumes forward momentum, drivers are free to proceed.

Some other important points that Tennessee motorists should keep in mind concerning school buses:

  • Failing to stop for a school bus is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by fines of anywhere from $250 to $1,000.
  • Yellow flashing lights on a school bus indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to unload or pick up children.
  • Motorists should generally leave 25 feet between their vehicles and the stopped school bus.

If your loved one was seriously injured in a school bus accident caused by the recklessness of another motorist, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for seeking justice.