In 2013, the Seattle School District did a one day count of drivers failing to stop at school buses that were actively loading children and over 300 people violated the law on that single day.
It is September and schools are back in session and it is an important reminder that drivers need to be more careful when approaching school buses on the roadway.
Washington’s law for overtaking a school bus is as follows:
Overtaking or meeting school bus, exceptions—Duties of bus driver—Penalty—Safety cameras.
(1) The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus a visual signal as specified in RCW 46.37.190 and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.
(2) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway divided into separate roadways as provided in RCW 46.61.150 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(3) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(4) The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by RCW 46.37.190 only when such bus is stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(5) The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps as defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.
(6) Except as provided in subsection (7) of this section, a person found to have committed an infraction of subsection (1) of this section shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the total penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended. Fifty percent of the money so collected shall be deposited into the school zone safety account in the custody of the state treasurer and disbursed in accordance with RCW 46.61.440(5).
(7) An infraction of subsection (1) of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180 is not a part of the registered owner’s driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120, and must be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.100,35.20.220, 46.16A.120, and 46.20.270(3). However, the amount of the fine issued for a violation of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera shall not exceed twice the monetary penalty for a violation of this section as provided under RCW 46.63.110.
[ 2011 c 375 § 3; 1997 c 80 § 1; 1990 c 241 § 8; 1965 ex.s. c 155 § 52.]
The main question most people have is what is their obligation when approaching a stopped school bus on the opposite side of the road?
The short answer is that if the roadway has three or more marked lanes of travel then the opposite traffic does not need to stop for the bus. Traffic behind the bus going the same direction always has to stop when the bus has its stop sign out, red lights flashing and is positioned for the loading or unloading of children.
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