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Motorist Rules Around School Buses

Keeping our schoolchildren safe is everyone's responsibility. The Ohio Department of Public Safety has set rules for motorists when driving near yellow school buses.

Ohio law - Penalties for not obeying these rules include fines up to $500 and a maximum 1-year suspension of a driver's license (Ohio Revised Code 4511.75):

  • Flashing yellow or amber lights mean the bus is preparing to stop and pick up or discharge students.  Drivers may pass the bus at this point, but be prepared to stop because the lights may change to red very quickly.
  • If you are on a two-lane road, you must stop for a school bus with flashing red lights and the Stop sign arm extended. This means students are boarding or exiting the bus. The bus' red lights are activated when the door is opened. If you pass at this point, you put students at serious risk of injury. The bus driver may report this infraction, and you may be ticketed.
  • If you are on a four-lane road or divided highway, you don’t have to stop for a school bus with its red lights on. A bus driver will never allow students to cross this type of roadway.
  • A driver’s open hand in the bus window is a signal to students outside the bus. The driver is not waving at you or signaling you.
  • It is legal for emergency vehicles with sirens on to carefully pass a stopped school bus with its red lights on.
  • A school bus must stop at all railroad crossings. Bus drivers put on the yellow hazard lights and set the parking brakes at the crossing. An approaching vehicle may pass the bus at the railroad crossing.
  • School buses don’t use warning or hazard lights in school-loading zones. Yellow buses always load or unload on the curb side of the school and off the traveled roadway. Use extra caution in loading zones.
  • Obey all loading-zone signs at schools. Police will ticket drivers who park in these designated areas. Many buildings have multiple buses for students.


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