Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Don't pass a stopped school bus

Drivers must stop on the street or highway 20 feet or more from any school bus that has stopped and is flashing red warning lights.

  • This applies both to vehicles approaching from the rear and from the opposing lanes.
  • All lanes of traffic must stop for the school bus, except in opposing lanes if the highway is divided with a center median.
  • No vehicle may proceed until the bus resumes motion and has turned off the red warning lights.
  • The stop arm on the bus is an added communication to other drivers, but the lack of an extended stop arm is not reason to pass a bus whose red lights are flashing.

In some urban areas buses will signal with yellow lights, or use red lights only in some parts of town. Motorists should observe school buses carefully for either the "pass cautiously" yellow light signal or the required full stop when a bus is flashing red lights.

A vehicle owner can be cited when the driver of a car passes a school bus illegally. A law enforcement officer need not witness this violation if the school bus driver reports it to the law enforcement agency within 24 hours. Fines can be quite high for illegally passing a school bus, but the risk of hitting a child is even higher.

Questions about the content of this page:
Lt. Karl Mittelstadt, karl.mittelstadt@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: September 3, 2014

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