Maryland Driving Laws — Knowing When to Stop for School Buses

With school starting for most students in Montgomery County today, MDOT, Zero Deaths Maryland offers the following reminders for when it is and isn’t ok to pass a school bus: We’ve all been there. We see the school bus slowing down, yellow lights flashing, and we panic. Do I stop? Do I keep going? Am I even supposed to stop from this direction?

No matter how long you’ve been driving, chances are you’ve been in a position where you questioned your own knowledge about school bus safety. We all know red means stop, but what do you do when the yellow lights are flashing? What if you’re on the other side of the road?

While riding a school bus is the safest mode of transportation for school children, let’s get the facts straight on when it is – and isn’t – OK to pass a school bus, when you should begin to slow down and how far away from the bus you need to stop. Together we can ensure all Maryland school children make it on and off the bus safely each day.

Yellow Flashing Lights are Activated

If a school bus has activated its flashing yellow lights, this is your signal that the bus driver is preparing to stop and pick up passengers. You should slow down and prepare to stop. If you are already alongside the bus when this occurs, continue driving — with increased caution, as children may enter the roadway before the bus has come to a complete stop.

Red Flashing Lights are Activated

Once the bus driver has activated the flashing red lights and stop signal, all vehicles sharing the roadway with the school bus must stop a minimum of 20 feet from the bus, regardless of the direction of travel if either of these conditions are met:

  • You are traveling in the same direction as the school bus. This is true whether the road has one lane, multiple lanes or a central turning lane.
  • You are traveling in the opposite direction and the road does not have a dirt, grass or barrier median. In other words, if there is no physical median, you must stop even if the bus is on the other side of the road.*
  • You are making a left-turn onto a street and you notice a school bus stopped in the opposite direction, and must make a decision whether to stop in oncoming traffic or pass the bus.  In this case, you must still stop and not pass the stopped school bus.

* In Maryland, if the roadway is separated by a physical median – such as dirt, grass, or barrier – you are not required to stop, but you should proceed with caution. (Note: In some states, you must stop for school buses even on a divided highway.)

What if I Don’t See Children Waiting to Cross or I’m Running Late?

The law is clear on stopping for school buses. Drivers do not get to make judgment calls on whether it’s safe to pass a stopped bus. Regardless of whether the driver is running late or feels inconvenienced or stuck behind a bus making multiple stops, you must stop.

It’s impossible to know whether there are children about to dart out to make a run for the bus, or whether they’re simply standing out of your line of sight. If you’re a driver and you often find yourself behind a school bus, it would be best to adjust your schedule to leave a few minutes earlier each day.

Children do not always know or understand the rules of the road. Their behavior can be unpredictable, and they may enter the roadway unexpectedly. Drivers are expected to know traffic safety laws and obey them. Always remain alert while driving, not just for yourself, but for our most vulnerable road users.

School Bus Violations Can Be Expensive — and Deadly

The penalties for passing a stopped school bus are steep because the risk of doing so is potentially deadly for school children.

Many school buses across the state are now equipped with automated enforcement technology that captures vehicle and license plate information of drivers who commit a stop-arm violation. These infractions carry a penalty of $250 for each violation. Violators who are stopped by a police officer face a fine of up to $570 and three points on their driver’s license.

Think about it: legal penalties pale in comparison to the consequences of striking a child who is boarding or exiting a school bus. Criminal charges aside, the lifelong repercussions for the family and friends of the victim and the burden of living with that impact are difficult to even contemplate.

Give Children a Brake

Although school bus safety begins at an early age, the last thing on the minds of most school children is boarding and exiting the bus safely. In the morning, they are excited about seeing friends and telling their teacher their latest joke or funny story. On the ride home, their focus is on getting home to play or tell someone about their day.

It is incumbent upon drivers to remain alert, slow down and know the law when it comes to stopping for school buses. Ignorance and inconvenience are not valid excuses for stop-arm violations. Together, we can ensure that all school children make it to and from the bus safely.

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17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Now in its 17th year, the Kensington Day of the Book Festival is a family-friendly street festival featuring 150+ renowned authors, poets, and literary organizations. Enjoy live music on five stages, special guest speakers, military veteran writers and comedians, poetry readings, cookbook demos, children's program, and much more.

Admission is free, and attendees will also be able to explore a marketplace of books and food offerings from local vendors.

Not your average book festival! This festival offers something for everyone!

17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Sunday, April 21, 2024, 11am-4pm (held rain or shine!)

Howard Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895

Instagram: @kensingtonbookfestival

Contact: Elisenda Sola-Sole, Festival Director

[email protected]

301-949-9416 (text preferred)

FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival

Get ready to experience the vibrant colors, tantalizing flavors, and infectious rhythms of the Caribbean at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival! Hosted by RHU LLC, this exciting festival is set to take place on May 18, 2024, at the picturesque 16700 Barnesville Rd in Boyds, MD.

Step into a world where the Caribbean spirit comes alive! From 12:00 PM onwards, immerse yourself in a sensory journey that celebrates the unique culture, cuisine, and music of the Caribbean. Whether you're an African American, a Reggae or Soca music enthusiast, a wine lover, or part of the vibrant Caribbean diaspora, this festival promises to delight and captivate you in every way.

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Accompanying the culinary extravaganza is a carefully curated selection of premium wines, ensuring the perfect pairing for your palate. Sip on fine wines from renowned vineyards, each sip a reflection of the Caribbean's vibrant spirit. Discover new flavors, expand your wine knowledge, and savor unforgettable moments with every glass.

As the sun sets, get ready to groove to the infectious rhythms of Caribbean music. Feel the pulsating beats of reggae, soca, dancehall, and calypso, moving your body to the lively melodies. Live performances by talented musicians and performers will keep the energy high, ensuring a night of unforgettable entertainment.

Don't miss this opportunity to embrace the Caribbean spirit and celebrate the arrival of spring in style! Tickets are available on AllEvents, so secure your spot today. Join us at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival, where cultures collide and unforgettable memories are made.



2 NIGHT Camping packages available: RV/CAMPER $200 | TENTS $150 Starting on Friday May 17 @ 5pm | 30 RV SPACES | 30+ TENT SPACES



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