CHOKEPOINTS

A reminder for safe driving near school buses as kids return to class

Feb 23, 2021, 9:00 AM
school buses, school bus...
A student walks to his bus after class at the Green Mountain School on Feb. 18, 2021, in Woodland, Washington. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

With more schools returning to some form of in-class education, we’re starting to see school buses on the road for the first time in almost a year.

KIRO Radio listener Margo sent an email recently asking me to remind everyone when it’s safe to pass a school bus. She got caught up in a situation where everyone stopped when they didn’t need to.

When am I allowed to turn in front of a school bus?

“I was on a four lane road (Pacific Ave in Spanaway) that also has a turn lane. A bus was stopped with lights flashing on the other side of the highway and every car on my side was stopping,” she wrote.

This is one of the most common situations we see where drivers do understand the law.

If there are three or more marked traffic lanes, traffic in the opposite direction does not need to stop for a school bus. This happens a lot on neighborhood arterials where there is one lane in each direction and a marked left turn lane in the middle. That turn lane counts as a traffic lane, so opposing traffic does not need to stop in that case.

The same rule applies if the lanes are divided by a physical barrier or a median.

If the bus is going your way, you stop. If the bus is going the other way, check to see how many lanes you have, and stop if necessary. There is no need to backup traffic when you don’t have to stop.

State law allows passing of school buses in parking lots

And as always, pass with caution.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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A reminder for safe driving near school buses as kids return to class