It is that time of year again, school has started for our local schools. With the start of school, you will see an increased number of school buses traveling their routes. It is important that you, as a motorist, understand your role in ensuring our school children stay safe.

Motorists around school buses need to know the signals and the laws that concern school buses to help keep children safe: [View ORC 4511.75]

Do not pass a school bus that has red alternating flashing lights on. This is the signal that the bus is stopped to load or unload children. Traffic should not move until the bus resumes motion or the driver signals traffic to proceed.

When a bus has alternating flashing amber (yellow) lights on, it is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Be ready to stop and watch for children in the roadway.

What should you do when approaching any school bus that is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children?

  • If a bus is stopped on a street or road that has fewer than four lanes, all traffic proceeding in either direction MUST stop.
  • If a bus is stopped on a street or road that has FOUR or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the SAME direction as the bus must stop.
  • You must not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the school bus driver to proceed.

If you fail to stop for a school bus, your error will not go unnoticed. Bus drivers will report the license plate number of any vehicle that fails to comply with the law to a law enforcement agency, and an investigation will be conducted to identify the driver for enforcement purposes.

Why does it take so long for the school to continue once it has stopped to pick up children? At bus stops state law requires drivers to follow these procedures:

  • Check mirrors for traffic conditions and apply brakes well in advance to warn traffic from the rear.
  • Actuate warning lights 300 feet prior to stop.
  • Stop bus at designated stop.
  • Set parking brake.
  • Place the gear shift lever into neutral gear for both manual and automatic transmissions to prevent the bus from lunging forward.
  • Open service door to actuate the warning lights and place hand over horn to warn students of potential hazards.
  • Give students directions to go to their Designated Place of Safety and stay there until the bus leaves or signal students to board the bus from their Designated Place of Safety.
  • Shift the gear lever into the starting gear, only after counting and confirming the students are in their Designated Place of Safety or safely in their seat.
  • Look to identify students and potential hazards in the danger zone, counting and checking the mirrors, before closing the door and canceling the warning lights.
  • Close the door when all areas are clear. Door must be closed before the bus moves.
  • Release the parking brake after closing the door.
  • Recheck traffic in the right and left side mirrors prior to pulling away.