State Patrol reminders for driving safely near school buses

As we are approaching the return of back to school, drivers will start to see school buses out on the roadways.
Posted at 3:25 PM, Aug 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-09 16:25:11-04

MILWAUKEE — As we are approaching the return of back to school, drivers will start to see school buses out on the roadways.

The Wisconsin State Patrol is reminding drivers of school bus laws. Here are some tips they suggest for drivers and parents to talk to their kids about school safety.

Driving near school buses

School buses make many stops, and children out walking can be unpredictable, so drivers need to use extra caution when they see a yellow bus on the roads. School buses are the only type of vehicle with a specific color required by state law. The yellow paint allows for high visibility for other drivers on the roads.

The school bus loading and unloading area is the most dangerous for pedestrians, so always pay attention to a bus when the stop arm is extended, or warning lights are engaged.

Wisconsin law requires drivers to use extra caution around school buses:

  • Stop at least 20 feet away from a bus when red warning lights are flashing; the only exception is if you are traveling on the other side of a divided road
  • Slow down when amber lights are flashing, which signal the bus is about to stop and red lights will soon be activated; drivers can pass a bus with amber lights activated but should do so cautiously
  • Yield to pedestrians who have a walk signal or green light, or those who are crossing a road with no signals
  • Always follow directions from school crossing guard

When passed illegally, bus drivers are authorized to report violations to law enforcement. A citation for failure to stop for a school bus costs $326 and four demerit points.
Keeping kids safe at the bus stop

Parents should incorporate safety conversations into their family’s back-to-school plans. Talk with children about bus stop safety and general walking precautions.

Children should always:

  • Look both ways before crossing the street
  • Follow instructions from bus drivers and crossing guards
  • Stay at least three, big steps away from the curb when waiting for the bus; wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver says it’s safe to get on the bus
  • Make sure the bus driver can see them when crossing in front of the bus; stay at least five, big steps away and look both ways for other traffic