When is it safe to pass a school bus in Ohio?

Being stuck behind a school bus while rushing to work can be frustrating, but school bus safety is more important than shaving a few minutes off your commute time.

From 2007 to 2016, there were 1,282 people of all ages killed in school transportation-related crashes—an average of 128 fatalities per year. Bus drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers on the road, all must obey bus safety rules. In Ohio, drivers must stop at least 10 feet away from a stopped school bus to allow passengers to safely enter or exit the bus.

Watch the lights

Amber lights

Flashing yellow lights mean a school bus is going to stop.Amber (yellow) flashing lights at the top of the bus indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Although you are not required to stop when the amber lights are flashing, you should be prepared to stop as soon as the bus comes to a full stop.

Red lights/Stop Arm

You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing.When the bus stops, red lights on the top of the bus will begin flashing, signaling drivers that children are entering or exiting the bus and may be crossing the street. In addition, a stop arm with flashing red lights extends out on the left side of the bus. Stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before starting to drive again. 

When to stop for a school bus in Ohio

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus begins to move or the bus driver signals motorists to proceed.

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus.

If the bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bust must stop.

If the bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bust must stop.

School Bus Safety Tips

  • Never pass a school bus on the right
  • All school buses must stop before crossing railroad tracks
  • Never pass a bus at a railroad crossing
  • Be aware of school zone signals and always obey the posted speed limits
  • Leave a little early so you are not rushed as you travel

Failure to stop for a school bus adds 2 points to your license in Ohio and is punishable by fines up to $500. You must appear in court and the judge has the discretion to suspend your driver’s license for up to one year. A driver who injures a pedestrian while failing to comply with school bus safety laws can face both criminal charges and civil liability. Those liabilities can include the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

 

Additional Resources:

Ohio Department of Public Safety. Bureau of Motor Vehicles. (2015, June). Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.75 – Stopping for stopped school bus

7 thoughts on “When is it safe to pass a school bus in Ohio?

  1. Curious question scenario.
    Say a bus is picking up/dropping off at a T intersection, or a 4 way road intersection.
    While understandably vehicles on a 2 way/ 2 lane road are required to stop, are the vehicles at the cross road required to stop?
    Now for the T intersection, a bus comes to a stop to discharge/pick up from the “stem” of the T, does the cross road traffic have to stop for the flashing red lights?

    1. Doug,

      That is a very interesting question. The Ohio statute does not address this issue directly on point; however, due to the unique circumstances of each case, we cannot provide legal advice on this blog. If you have been injured in a crash or have further questions, please contact one of our experienced accident attorneys at 1-800-ELK-OHIO.

      Thank you,
      Your Friends at Elk & Elk

  2. I live in ashtabula Ohio I got a failure to stop ticket for a school.bus I did not see the flashing lights on the bus so I don’t no if they went on while passing a cop pulled.me over my concern is will I do jail time or suspend my license if I have a good record
    And do I need a lawyer for this

  3. I was driving in the same direction and parallel with a school bus (on a four-lane road). We both slowed down for traffic in front of us. When clear, I proceeded forward, only to notice that the bus had stopped. The bus driver honked the horn & extended the stop/gate. I continued to the traffic light in my lane, which was to the left of the bus. While sitting at the traffic light, I noticed that the bus was at the same light. Did I violate Ohio revised code? How do I know if the driver reported me?

  4. I have a question, can another vehicle go around a city bus while the bus is at a rail road crossing with their four ways on?Considering that the city bus has to do the same thing at a crossing as a school bus.

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