In Pennsylvania, being ticketed for passing a school bus that is loading or unloading children carries some of the most severe penalties. § 3345 Meeting or overtaking a school bus is in place to protect children from death or serious bodily injury while they are in or near the path of travel of vehicles on the road. Failing to comply with these laws can lead to
- 60-Day Driver’s License Suspension
- Five (5) points on your driving record
- $250 Fine
Paying complete attention to the road and staying off hand held devices will help prevent a driver from violating these laws and keep Pennsylvania children safe while they are on their way to school or coming home from school.
Flashing Red Lights
Flashing red lights emitting from the school bus means that you must stop. This is for traffic behind the bus or coming towards the bus, as well as traffic approaching an intersection where a bus with flashing red lights is stopped . The only exception of this law, which pertains to dividers and barriers, is explained below. The school buses lights can be thought of like a traffic signal, with red meaning stop. School buses can only have their red lights flashing when they are loading or unloading school children on a roadway. During this time, a red STOP arm will swing outwards from the drivers side of the bus. Drivers are required to stop at least ten feet behind the bus or ten feet in front of the bus if they are on the opposite side of the road. Once the bus stops flashing its red lights, drivers are permitted to go but it is advised to do so cautiously, as children are presumably near the roadway.
Flashing Amber Lights
Using the traffic signal analogy above, the amber lights flashing means to slow down as the bus is getting ready to stop to load or unload school children. The school bus operator will start to flash the buses amber lights no less than 150 feet from where they will load or unload school children. During this time of yellow flashing lights, it is legal to pass the bus in a safe manner, but while doing so, the driver passing the bus must be prepared to stop if the lights change from amber to red flashing.
This is the only exception to passing a bus with flashing red lights. A driver who is on the opposite side of the road as a stopped bus does not need to stop on a roadway separated by barriers (jersey barrier, guardrail, etc) or dividers (a strip of grass, train tracts, etc). It is important to keep in mind that multiple lanes of traffic, turning lanes, and center lanes do not constitute as dividers and in these situations drivers must stop for school buses. If a driver has any doubt if they are permitted to pass or if they have to stop for a bus flashing red lights, the driver should stop.
Stop Arm Cameras
Last year, in 2018, Pennsylvania passed a bill that would allow school districts to mount cameras on to the STOP arm that swings out from the bus. These cameras would capture drivers passing the bus while the STOP arm is activated with flashing red lights. The bill states that the owner of vehicle can be cited for passing a school bus and receive the prescribed consequences above. To go further, the bill also states that if the registered owner was not the driver, the owner must name who was driving the vehicle so that the person may be held responsible for the violation.
Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo is dedicated to educate our clients, friends and family with knowing current PA laws in order to keep everyone safe and out of legal trouble. If you have been cited by for passing a school bus with flashing red lights, our experienced legal team is here to fight for you. Your future? Our priority!