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Consequences Of Passing A Stopped School Bus

It’s that time of year again – kids are going back to school and roads are becoming more congested. School buses are on the road, picking up and dropping off students. Passing a stopped school bus is against the law in North Carolina. Do you know when to stop for a stopped school bus and when it’s OK to keep driving?

We sometimes forget how serious this issue is in our busy lives, but you should not take stopped school buses lightly. Driving safely is always important, but never more so than when children are involved.

Did you know? Passing a stopped school bus has greater consequences than passing a stop sign or running a red light.

Be Aware
It is imperative that you recognize when a school bus is going to stop. Of course you can watch out for the swing-out blinking stop sign, but there are other ways to determine whether or not a school bus will stop. First, pay attention to your area, and note any neighborhoods or subdivisions along your route. Also, look for any possibilities of the school bus having to make a stop due to traffic, weather, or other causes.

When to Stop for a School Bus
Whether you are following the school bus, or driving in the opposite direction, you must bring Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 1.32.15 PMyour vehicle to a complete stop when a school bus is receiving or discharging passengers. You do this when you are:

  • Driving on a two-lane roadway
  • Driving on a two-lane roadway with a center turning lane
  • Driving on a four-lane roadway without a median

You may be allowed to continue driving if you are going in the opposing direction of the school bus, but if — and only if — you are:

  • Driving on a divided highway of four lanes or more, with a median separation
  • Driving on a roadway of four lanes or more, with a center turning lane

What will happen if you break the stopped school bus law?
If you are found guilty of passing a stopped school bus, the minimum fine is $500 and you will receive 5 points on your driver’s license.

More importantly, if you strike a child, you are guilty of a Class I felony, with a fine of $1,250 and a driver’s license suspension for two years. If the child dies, you are guilty of a Class H felony, with a minimum $2,500 fine and license suspension of three years.

If you accumulate enough points on your driver’s license, you may:

  • Be required to take a improvement or defensive driving course
  • Receive a driver’s license suspension, revocation, or cancellation
  • Receive a driver’s license restriction
  • Owe fees and fines to North Carolina DMV

What about running a red light or stop sign?
Passing a stopped school bus is more serious than either of these two. If you are found guilty of running a red light or stop sign, you will be issued a fine of $100 (typically) and receive 3 points on your driver’s license.

Please drive safely.
In order to protect all drivers and pedestrians in our community, remember to be safe. Always keep 10 feet between your vehicle and any school bus. Make sure you stay alert and pay attention to the signs of a stopping school bus. Children can be unpredictable, and you will have to deal with serious consequences if found guilty.

If you have questions about the subject or need legal advice, don’t hesitate to contact us at 910-893-8183.

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