School bus safety quiz: Here’s what you probably didn’t know

JACKSON, Wyo. — School is back in session after Thanksgiving break and it is a good time to remind motorists about passing school buses. Yes, people are still doing that.

Wyoming Department of Transportation and Wyoming Highway Patrol, along with the Teton County School District #1, would like to remind drivers to stop for school buses. One important thing to note: Did you know drivers can now be fined for violations that have been caught on camera?

Currently, drivers who do not stop for flashing red lights on a stopped school bus can be fined $435. Recently, the Wyoming State Legislature added a subsection to the statute, allowing law enforcement to ticket the registered owner of a vehicle identified by video and fine them $195 regardless of the driver of the vehicle. Currently, school busses are equipped with cameras to help identify violators.

“So even if there is not a law enforcement presence there to witness the act, drivers can still be penalized for this unsafe behavior,” said Lt. Matthew Brackin from the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol recognizes that many of the rural bus stops in our state occur on our state highways.

When do I need to stop?

If you’re driving on a two-lane road, regardless of which direction you’re heading, when the school bus activates its red flashing lights you are required to stop. You must stop before reaching the school bus and remain stopped until the red lights are turned off or the bus continues driving down the road.

If you’re driving on a four-lane road, regardless of which direction you’re heading, the same rules apply and you are still required to stop. Again, you must stop prior to where the school bus is stopped, and you remain stopped until those red lights turn off. In addition, drivers are required to stop in both directions on a five-lane roadway with a center turn lane.

That means if you are driving on, say, S. Highway 89 down around Rafter J or Melody and a bus is stopped southbound way over in the far lane and you are traveling north to Jackson way over four lanes away…you still need to stop on red flashing lights. Many people are unaware of this.

The only circumstance where you are not required to stop for a school bus is if you’re traveling on a divided highway or frontage road, you’re traveling in the opposite direction and there’s an actual physical barrier separating your lanes from the lanes the school bus is in. This barrier can be a concrete divider or a grassy median. But even though you’re not required by law to stop in this situation, you should still use extreme caution as you drive by. Slow down and expect to see children.

Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Teton County School District #1 would also like to urge drivers to slow down and pay attention in school zones. Drivers cited speeding in a school zone could pay fines of $110 to $360.

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