Back to School: What Are South Carolina’s School Bus Laws?
As school is in full swing for many children across South Carolina, yellow buses are back on the road transporting students. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, more than 23 million students across the state use the busing system to get to and from school. While some drivers may have to leave a little earlier to get to work on time, all drivers should be aware of what the laws are regarding sharing the road with the buses.
School Bus Traffic Law
Drivers may notice that a school bus will put on flashing yellow lights before the lights turn red and a stop sign is extended. The flashing yellow lights indicate that the bus is getting ready to stop. Technically, drivers could still pass a bus during this time, but experts advise against it. The bus could put on the flashing red lights as the driver is passing, which could result in a ticket. Therefore, law enforcement officers advise drivers to simply stop once a bus’ lights come on. When a bus has flashing red lights on and the stop sign extended, no driver is allowed to pass – even a driver coming in the opposite direction on a two-lane road. Both lanes of traffic must stop for a school bus when the red lights are on. On a multi-lane roadway that has four or more lanes, drivers traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus are not required to stop.
Consequences of Passing a Stopped Bus
At a bare minimum, if you are caught passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing, you will be issued a traffic ticket. That ticket will likely carry with it a fine of $1,000 or more. Additionally, the infraction will add six points to your driver’s license. Once you have six points on your license, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will send you a letter that outlines what will happen if you continue to accumulate points. For example, any number of points on your license will increase your auto insurance rate. If you happen to accumulate 12 or more points on your license, your driving privileges will be suspended. In worst-case scenarios, passing a school bus could lead to a car accident or striking a child crossing the road. These situations can lead to criminal charges, fines and costly damages, not to mention the possibility of jail time, depending on the situation. If you are unsure of whether or not you should pass a school bus, experts suggest erring on the side of caution. In a situation in which you are ticketed or are involved in an accident, having a skilled attorney on your side can prevent you from suffering the worst consequences. Allow our team at Nosal & Jeter, LLP to assist you through the legal process if you find yourself in that situation.