Safe to Pass? Troopers break down SC bus laws

Published: Aug. 20, 2012 at 5:50 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM EDT
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The first day of school means the first time in a while that you'll see those big yellow buses around town. But do you know when you're supposed to stop for a school bus? South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers have a refresher course.

"There are two things that people need to keep in mind, patience and leave extra early," said Corporal Bob Beres with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Corporal Beres says that practicing patience may start before you ever see a school bus stopped. "When a school bus is out in front of you and flashing yellow, that's caution… it's getting ready to stop," said Beres. "Don't try everything to go ahead and beat that yellow light."

While authorities highly discourage passing a bus when its caution lights are flashing, they say don't even think about it when its lights are red.

"If you don't stop for a school bus, not to mention there's a chance that you might run over a child, but the points that will be assessed to your driving record will be 6 points and over $1,000 dollar fine," said Beres.

Officials add that always applies if you're following a bus or headed in the same direction. In fact, it's illegal to pass a stopped bus in all 50 states. But what if you are approaching a stopped school bus from the opposite direction?

"A two-lane roadway, one lane going one direction, one lane going coming toward you, you have to stop for the school bus that's approaching you," said Cpl. Beres.

The law changes only on a multi-lane roadway. "If there are four or more lanes on a roadway, then you do not have to stop for the school bus if it is in the opposite direction: two lanes going one direction, two lanes going toward you is a four-lane roadway," said Beres. He adds that is regardless of the median.

The same laws also apply at railroad tracks. While buses may not be loading or unloading children, by law they are required to stop at the tracks. Officials say that means you have to follow the law, too.

However, Cpl. Beres says if you are ever unsure or near a motorist that stops even when they don't have to, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"I'd rather have someone stop than not stop," said Beres. "Patience is the biggest thing. Leave extra early… a minute of your time, is not worth someone losing their life."

South Carolina Highway Patrol has a list of back to school safety tips on their website:

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