Minnesota State Patrol: School Bus Stop Arm Safety

Minnesota State Patrol: School Bus Stop Arm Safety


[steady music] – School bus stop arms exist
to protect children as they are picked up or
dropped off at school or home. We’ll examine requirements
for vehicle drivers regarding
school bus stop arm safety, how these requirements
are enforced, the consequences
for violations, and how you as a motorist can
help keep our children safe. In Minnesota,
school buses make at least 10,000 trips daily. According to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, children are eight times safer
riding a bus to school than any other vehicle. Their safety while getting on
and off the bus is crucial, and this is why stop arms
were implemented decades ago. Yet violation of laws
regarding stop arms continue to occur
on a daily basis, endangering
our children statewide. Every year we hear stories of children being hit
or nearly hit by vehicles not obeying
the stop arm law. – It was my first stop
in the afternoon. I had signaled
as I turned a corner, activated my eight-ways, opened the door,
the stop arm’s out, the red lights are on, and the children
were departing the bus. – And my son came running
in the house and said that Evelyn was hit
by a car. – Bus was stopped.
Stop arm down and everything. And as she’s crossing
the street, there was an oncoming vehicle. The bus driver honked the horn, yelled Evelyn’s name
out the window. – The car was not going
to stop. – And Evelyn stopped and looked
back at the bus driver and then kept going because she didn’t understand
what was going on. – And she hesitated just enough for the car
not to fully hit her. But she did keep going a little
bit, and the car clipped her. – Knocked her to the ground. The rear tire
ran over her foot. – I’m very grateful, because if Mickey,
the bus driver, did not stop her
or slow her down, she would’ve been
right in front of the car. – It’s eye-opening
having firsthand experience with your kid getting hit
by a car by someone failing to stop
at a stop arm for a bus. – The next day she didn’t want to ride
the school bus because she didn’t feel safe. So it took a while
for her to get back to normal. It was very hard. [somber music] – It’s stories like these
that reinforce the point that everyone
needs to pay attention to their surroundings and to always stop
for school buses. The driver of a vehicle
approaching a school bus displaying flashing red lights
with the stop arm extended must stop at least 20 feet
away from the bus. On two-lane roadways, all traffic
from both directions must stop when a school bus
extends its stop arm and activates
the flashing red lights. The driver must not move until the stop arm
is retracted and the red lights
are no longer flashing. Even if the two-lane roadway
has a center turn lane, vehicles in all lanes
are required to stop. A four-lane roadway
without median separation requires all vehicles
traveling in both directions to stop. On a highway
with four lanes or more with a separating median, such as a cement wall
or boulevard, only traffic traveling in the same direction
of the school bus is required to stop. Failure to stop is illegal, and many school buses
are equipped with cameras to help identify
and prosecute violators. It’s important to know that violating laws
regarding school bus stop arms is a serious offense. At the very least,
a misdemeanor can result in a minimum $500 fine. [steady music] Charges of a gross
misdemeanor can result if a driver
passes a stopped bus on the passenger-door side or attempts to pass while
a child is outside the bus or on an adjacent sidewalk. Varying degrees
of felony charges can result should an injury
or fatality occur. Distracted driving
plays a significant role in drivers failing to yield
for school buses. Minnesota is
a hands-free cellphone state. That means you cannot have
a phone in your hand while driving. Other distractions, such as entering
GPS directions, setting a radio station, adjusting
your climate control, and interacting
with passengers in the car, can all be distracting. Setting all distractions aside is the best way to focus 100%
of your attention on the road. As a driver,
it’s your responsibility to know the laws regarding
school bus stop arms and remain alert and patient whenever in the vicinity
of a school bus or children. If possible, you may want
to change your driving route or commuting schedule to avoid
peak school bus activity. Make sure you know the laws regarding
school bus stop arm safety on the type of roadway
you are traveling. Do your part to keep
Minnesota’s children safe. – It’s scary to think
of what it could’ve been. And it was really close to possibly losing
our daughter, and that’s not something anybody should have
to go through. – For more information
or if you have any questions, visit the Minnesota Department
of Public Safety at dps.mn.gov.