August 28, 2012

NEWS FOR YOU… from the Iowa D.O.T

School Bus Safety

By Debra Carney
Driver License Supervisor, Office of Driver Services
Davenport, Iowa

Iowa Department of Transportation

Every year, new rules are passed into law by our legislators. Some may have little if any impact on our day to day lives, while others can impact us greatly. The majority of these new laws go into effect July 1, though others are so important they go into effect as soon as the Governor signs them.

One of those important laws, known as “Kadyn’s Law,” went into effect upon the Governor’s signature on March 16. This law is named for Kadyn Halverson of Kensett, Iowa, who was killed by a hit and run driver the morning of May 10, 2011. It increases penalties for drivers who fail to abide by the law, increasing the amount a violator must pay, as well as imposing possible jail time and license suspension.

Let’s look at the correct way to deal with a school bus.

First, it may help to know what is going on in the school bus. Whether the school bus driver is picking up or discharging students, they will activate the flashing yellow light to indicate the school bus is preparing to stop. At this point, you as a motorist should slow down and prepare to stop. Next, the school bus driver activates the flashing red lights and extends the stop arm to indicate the school bus has stopped. At this point motorists should stop.

The diagram below is a two lane undivided highway. Notice both motorists, both meeting and following the bus, have stopped since the stop arm is out. Stop no closer than 15 feet from the bus and remain stopped until the lights stop flashing and the arm is withdrawn.

On a two lane highway with a center turn lane or a three lane highway, as shown below, motorists both meeting and following the school bus are to stop.

The following diagrams are of roadways with two or more lanes in each direction. In these situations only the motorists traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.

The school bus driver is not permitted to allow students to cross this type of roadway unless there are official traffic control devices or police officers are present. Motorists meeting buses in this situation are not required to stop even though the red lights are flashing and stop arm is out.

Some important points to remember is to stay alert, be aware of when school buses may be operating. You may want to alter your route or delay your trip either before or directly after school when traffic is heaviest. Young children riding buses are trained in how to load and unload but they may become distracted so plan for the unexpected. And remember if the yellow light is flashing the bus will be stopping.