Perspective

Road Rules 101: Drivers need extra school-bus vigilance this year

Monday, August 3, 2020by  PEMCO Insurance

As school districts across the Northwest grapple with options for socially distanced learning, remote/in-person hybrid classrooms, staggered start times and alternating days are all part of the discussion. That means you could see buses and students on the roads virtually any time of day.

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Here are the Big Two School Bus Rules of the Road you need to know.

Big Rule No. 1: When to stop

In Washington – RCW 46.61.370.

Drivers MUST STOP when:

  • They're behind the bus, traveling in the same direction, regardless of the number of lanes. Drivers can't use the center turn lane to pass the bus.
  • They're on a two-lane road, heading in the opposite direction of the bus.

Drivers DO NOT NEED TO STOP when:

  • They're on a road with three or more lanes, heading in the opposite direction of the bus.
  • They're on a divided highway, heading in the opposite direction of the bus.

In Oregon – ORS.811.155

Drivers MUST STOP when:

  • They're behind the bus or heading in the opposite direction, regardless of the number of lanes.

Drivers DO NOT NEED TO STOP when:

  • They're on a divided highway, separated by an unpaved median or divider, heading in the opposite direction of the bus.

In both states, drivers must stay stopped until the bus driver turns off the red lights, and it's NEVER OK to pass a school bus on the right, since that's where kids are loading and unloading.

Big Rule No. 2: School zones

School zones can be confusing. While a speed limit of 20 mph is standard, exactly when and where the limit applies can differ. It also can depend on the signs used. That's why we urge drivers to adopt this easy, worry less, live more habit: No matter the time or day, when driving through a school zone, stick to 20 mph or less. Remember the rhyme "twenty is plenty."

Here are three things to know about school zone laws:

  • When school zone signs in Washington and Oregon say "when children are present," they mean the 20 mph speed limit applies when you see kids walking alongside the road, on the sidewalk, in a crosswalk or waiting to cross (not when they're in classrooms or behind a fence on the playground). Flashing lights on a school zone sign require you to slow down to 20 mph any time.
  • For school zone signs without a flashing light, Oregon law, Violating a Speed Limit (section 1e), requires you to slow down to 20 mph from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days.
  • Washington spells it out differently. Its Maximum Speed Limit When Passing School or Playground Crosswalks law requires you to slow down to 20 mph when passing crosswalks marked with standard school or playground speed limit signs. Generally, school zones extend 300 feet in either direction from those marked crosswalks.

NOTE: While we're experts in loss prevention and home/auto safety, we don't consider ourselves experts in traffic laws or their enforcement. Information shared here is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have legal concerns, we urge you to contact a law enforcement source or attorney in your community.

 


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Comments on this post

personPat Campbell08/06/2020 10:29 PM
I’m uncertain about when in Washington one must slow down to 20 MPH. Does this mean when there is no sign “when children are present”,  that one must slow to 20 MPH  in a school zone, when school is not in session and no children are present? This is actually the way I learned it 50 years ago in drivers’ ed!
personEmily Hitchens08/05/2020 04:46 PM
I don't think we will be having school buses in my district because school is on-line for the forseeable future. The district also does not have enough buses and drivers to accommodate the 6 foot distance required.
personvic Jones08/05/2020 10:30 AM
Very good information.  With school about to start, we don't know what times or where the kids will be with this Viirus situation so we need to always be prepared to watch out for all of them.

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