It can be frustrating. You are already behind because you burnt your toast and had to start over, but now to top things off, you are stuck behind a big, slow, vibrantly yellow school bus. It can be tempting to speed past the lumbering giant. You might want to quickly dart by the mechanically raised stopped sign. Beware! Washington laws protect school buses and, more importantly, children from hazardous driving.
Pay attention to the white board now and remember the following rules for sharing the road with our bumblebee themed school support staff.
Most importantly, be careful when seeking to pass by a school bus (from any direction) while the bus is stopped near children. Those flashing red lights are there for a reason. Children – at any moment – may dart across the road not thinking about the dangers of traffic. While bus drivers are trained to keep their head on a swivel, there is no stopping a car quickly travelling no matter the reaction time.
Specifically, RCW 46.61.370 provides guidance on overtaking or meeting a school bus and, sure enough, drivers must stop when reaching a stopped school bus and may not accelerate until the “school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.” No gunning it to pass the bus!
What if the school bus is on a larger, multilane road? RCW 46.61.150 provides additional guidance. If you are travelling the same direction as the school bus, you must stop. However, drivers need not stop if – and only if – they are travelling in the opposite direction and there are either three or more marked traffic lanes or the street is divided into separate roadways.
Police do not even need to be present for drivers to get in trouble. Under RCW 46.61.372, if a school bus driver can sufficiently identify a car or driver that violates these laws, the school bus driver may complete a written report. The report is then provided to the police for investigation. If the police identify the driver, they can still be cited for violating the law based on the school bus driver’s information.
School buses are an integral part of our education system and allow thousands of children every day to attend school. Getting stuck behind a bus that stops every few blocks can be frustrating. Instead of violating Washington law and perhaps endangering kids, leave your house or work five minutes earlier to hopefully avoid the bus schedule.
If you know someone injured in a motor vehicle collision, knowing Washington law will prepare you for the inevitable fight with the insurance company. At the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS, we work each day to push back against at fault drivers and insurance companies. Call today for a free consultation.