What You Need To Know About Passing A Stopped School Bus In Grand Junction
Are you certain about what the law says about passing a stopped school bus in Colorado?
Another school year is upon us and I want to raise some awareness about the kids who will be getting on and off a school bus every day in Grand Junction. It's up to every driver in the Grand Valley to do their part to keep our kids safe.
Getting On and Off A School Bus Can Be Dangerous
Every year in the United State, about 20 school-age kids are killed in the process of getting on or off a school bus. These are deaths that, in most cases, are avoidable. Often times it's either ignorance or disregard for the law that leads to these unnecessary tragedies. A little extra caution from motorists and knowing what the law is can help.
When Do I Need To Stop For A School Bus WIth Flashing Red Lights?
School bus traffic laws in Colorado are actually pretty simple - but some drivers may still be confused or uncertain about when they are required to stop for a school bus that has flashing red lights while picking up or dropping off students.
Here's the deal. If you see a school bus on either side of the road with its red lights flashing, you are required to stop your vehicle at least 20 feet before reaching the bus. You need to remain stopped until the red lights stop flashing. At that point, you should proceed cautiously, making sure there are no kids on the road.
When Am I Not Required to Stop For A School Bus?
This part is pretty simple. If the road is separated by a median or physical barrier and a school bus stops on the opposite side of the road, you are not required to stop. You still need to exercise some caution.
Examples In Grand Junction
North Avenue in Grand Junction has a physical barrier dividing the road, which means you don't have to stop for a bus on the opposite side of the road. If the bus is on your side of the road and the red lights are flashing, do not pass. Make your stop at least 20 feet behind the bus and wait for the lights to go off.
Patterson Road does not have a physical barrier dividing the road like North Avenue, but it does have a center turn lane. The same rule applies. Motorists coming from the opposite direction of the stopped school bus don't have to stop, but you should still proceed with caution. It's still a good idea to slow down.
What To Do When A Bus Flashes Yellow Lights
About 200 feet before a stop, school bus drivers are supposed to use their yellow lights. If you see yellow lights flashing, the speed limit is immediately reduced to 20 MPH, regardless of what posted signs may say. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is about to make a stop and motorists should go ahead and slow down and be prepared to stop - not zip quickly around the bus.
What Happens If I Violate the Law?
If you fail to stop for the flashing red lights of a school bus, it's a Class 2 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $300, and six points on your driver's license. If you commit a second offense within 5 years, it becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000.
Keeping Kids Safe Is the Priority
Of course, the important thing is keeping our kids safe and we all need to be extra vigilant when it comes to school bus safety. Seems like everyone is in such a hurry all the time - and nobody wants to stop for the minute it takes to get kids on or off the bus. But, aside from the fact that it's Colorado law, following proper protocol when you see those red lights flashing will keep you in good standing with the state of Colorado, and you'll be helping to keep our kids safe from harm - and saving parents from some unbearable grief.
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