Stop Arm Violations Info from Transportation

Stop Arm Violations Info from Transportation
Posted on 01/17/2023

Do You Know When to Stop for School Buses in Missouri?
By: Curt Jackson, Director of Transportation

While school buses remain incredibly safe, students who ride in buses are most vulnerable when they are outside the bus in the “danger zone.” Drivers are becoming more and more distracted. Our children are, and will continue to be, in harm’s way, as we add more cars, more drivers and more distractions to our daily lives, unless we do something different from what we are currently doing.

Despite the fact that students are much safer being transported to and from school in a school bus, students and adults at the bus stop are still very much at the mercy of inattentive motorists. The NASDTPTS 2019 School Bus Industry Survey identified an average of 95,000 illegal passes across 39 states in a single day. That’s 17 million near misses in one school year.

In a one-week period in 2018, five children were killed and six were injured in five separate incidents involving drivers who passed stopped school buses. “To amplify the shocking results from this school year was the fact that over a six-day period, six students were killed, and eight students and two adults were injured by vehicles either violating school bus stop arms or hitting students and adults while they were waiting at a bus stop.”

In Missouri on 05/11/2022, there were 2,491 reported violations in one day.  In Mexico, there have been as many as 7 violations in one day. School buses make frequent stops to load and unload students. It is the nature of their business. By law, when a school bus stops to drop off or pick up students, motorists must stop too. But motorists sometimes don’t. Motorists want to get where they are going with little interruption and as quickly as they can, or they don’t know exactly what they are required to do.

Every one of the 50 States has a law making it illegal to pass a school bus, with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended, that is stopped to load or unload students. For whatever reason, drivers aren’t always obeying that law and that can create an unsafe situation for children.    

The wording of the law says, “The driver of a vehicle on a highway upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children and whose driver has in the manner prescribed by law given the signal to stop, shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus and shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by its driver to proceed.”

So, do you know when to stop for school buses?  The easiest way to understand Missouri’s stop-for-school-buses law, known as “Jessica’s Law,” is to remember that on a two-lane road, regardless of turn lanes, both lanes are required to come to a complete stop when a school bus is stopped and has its STOP arm extended. Motorists traveling in the same direction as a school bus, no matter how many lanes of traffic, should always stop when a school bus stops in front of them and extends its STOP arm.

School districts work hard to keep kids safe at school and on the school buses.  But it is a team effort.  Whether it’s distracted driving or not knowing for sure what the laws are, drivers should educate themselves on what to do to make sure our kids are safe.