School Bus Passing Laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey – Fines, Driver’s License Suspensions, and Even Jail
The new academic school year is here and drivers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey must once again share the roads with school buses taking students to and from school every day. This will, without question, increase commute times, especially now since virtual classes are in the past. It is important to understand that Pennsylvania and New Jersey maintain strict laws regarding violations of the traffic laws which pertain to school buses. Both states obviously have a compelling interest to keep children safe and have therefore passed driving laws which empathize that safety.
Pennsylvania – School Bus Passing Laws (Meeting or Overtaking School Buses)
In Pennsylvania, a driver who encounters a school bus must come to a complete stop when the buses’ red signal lights are flashing, and the stop arm is extended. While the bus does initiate a Stop Sign and you must stop at least ten feet away from the school bus. Your vehicle must remain stopped until the lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm is retracted. Even if the arm is withdrawn, however, you should not move your vehicle until all children have reached the sidewalk safely. Approximately 1.5 million children are transported in Pennsylvania alone on roads each day.
A driver who violates Pennsylvania school bus laws faces a mandatory minimum of sixty (60) days driver’s license suspension and five (5) points on the driving record. In addition, there is a $250 fine. Each year over 700 drivers in Pennsylvania are charged and convicted of passing a stopped school bus.
Drivers may only pass a school bus on a highway with a clearly defined dividing sections such as physical barriers or medians. This only applies if the school bus is on the opposite side of the road. See Title 75, Section 3345-meeting or overtaking school buses (Pennsylvania Vehicle Code).
New Jersey – School Bus Passing Laws
New Jersey has very similar laws then Pennsylvania under its traffic code (39:4-128.1). New Jersey, however, requires a driver to stop at least 25 feet from the stopped school bus when the flashing red lights are activated even if the bus is not equipped with a stop arm.
Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey requires drivers on the opposite side of traffic of a divided highway to pass the school bus at no more than 10 miles per hour and remain at that speed until they have completely passed the bus. The vehicles in the same lane of traffic are obviously required to stop.
In New Jersey, a violation of a traffic code law with regards to school buses is a $100 fine and up to 15 days in jail or 15 days of community service for a first offense. Repeat offenders can received a $250 fine. Five (5) points are assessed for each violation.
Our law firm wishes students and their families a safe a happy academic school year.
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