Question:  This winter has provided snowbanks as barriers in town, eliminating the turn lane between our east- and westbound lanes. If a school bus is stopped and the stop arm is extended, does the opposing traffic have to stop?

Answer:  Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) – but they should remain alert for pedestrians. 

With snowbanks or non-fixed barriers, motorists are required to stop when the stop-arm is extended and red flashing lights are activated on a school bus and when the roadways are not separated. When in doubt, always side on the side of caution and stop for school buses.

Many school buses are equipped with video cameras and this footage can be used as evidence against a driver if a violation has occurred.   

The fine for a school bus stop-arm/red lights violation is a minimum of $500.

Last year, law enforcement across the state wrote nearly 1,200 stop-arm violation citations. Failing to stop for a school bus is not only illegal but it puts our children at risk.   

Minnesota state law requires motorists to stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and its stop-arm is extended when approaching from the rear or from the opposite direction on undivided roads. 

Drivers can face criminal charges for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus, or injuring or killing a child. 

SGT. NEIL DICKENSON is Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer for the state’s northeast region. Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues to neil.dickenson@state.mn or by mail to Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth MN 55811. Follow Dickenson on Twitter at @MSPPIO_NE . 

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