Now that the school year is back in full swing, there’s a familiar beast back on the roads—those bright yellow school buses packed with children headed to their education. While most of us wouldn’t dream of intentionally putting a child in danger, there are reasons for the laws against not passing school buses, and equally serious consequences for drivers who choose to pass anyway. Even if you’re running late to a big meeting or appointment, consider the following before you take your chances with passing a school bus.
The Law: In the state of New Jersey, the laws against passing a school bus are laid out in statue 39:4-128.1, which also describes what will happen if you go around that bus anyway.
The Consequences: Passing a school bus means a whole host of consequences, many of which are likely more serious than you’d thought!
- Minimum of $100 in fines, or at least $250 for repeat offenses
- Up to 15 in jail
- 15 days of community service
- Up to 5 points on your driver’s license
But What Does it Mean, Exactly?
This law is designed to reasonably protect children getting on and off the school bus, specifically, but also while they’re traveling along the road as well. It doesn’t mean you can’t pass a slow moving bus on a highway- read on for some clarifications of the key legal components to the school bus law.
- Never pass a bus with its flashing red lights on. This is a key component throughout.
- When you’re coming up to a stopped school bus, you need to also stop at minimum 25 feet away from the bus. You can’t go towards the bus until after those flashing red lights have stopped, even if there aren’t any children in sight. They’re small—you might miss them!
- You also have to stop 25 feet away if you’re going down a larger road or highway where lanes are only separated by painted lines.
- If you’re on a highway with a raised median or safety island, you don’t have to stop completely, but you do have to decrease speed to only 10 miles per hour.
- If you’re travelling behind a bus and don’t see its lights come on, but it’s slowing down anyway, does that mean you don’t have to stop? No! A school bus light may not be functioning at 100%, but you still need to obey the school bus laws. Typically, the bus will display either yellow or amber colored lights just before stopping, and will start the red lights when it’s completely stopped. Don’t just rely on the lights though, but be aware of your surroundings at all times—especially when following a school bus.
Obeying the laws about passing, stopping, and slowing down for school buses is important to keep the children in our community safe. But occasionally things happen—we’re only human after all. In the event that you were ticketed for something related to the statute outlined in this blog, call me, defense attorney Leon Matchin, at (732) 662-7658. I have successfully handled hundreds of traffic offense cases, resulting in relieved and satisfied clients. When the outcome matters, make sure you have the legal assistance you need.