Do You Know New Jersey’s Laws for Stopped School Buses?
Kids across the great Garden State are going back to school and it's also a good time for Jersey drivers to get re-educated on what to do when a school bus is picking-up or dropping-off students.
It seems simple: if a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing, you stop. But, that's not always the case -- at least legally speaking.
Of course, it goes without saying that kids running to or from a school bus aren't going to recite a state statute verse by verse, so you should always exercise caution while driving around a bus, regardless of how the law reads.
According to NJ.gov, if you are on an undivided road (a road without a median) and a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing, traffic in both directions must stop no less than 25 feet from the bus. You must remain fully stopped until the red lights are turned off.
As for a road with a median, the law is a bit different. If you are on a divided road (think of the Black Horse Pike with its grassy median or the White Horse Pike that's divided by a concrete wall in spots), traffic behind the bus must stop when its red lights are on. However, if you are approaching the bus from the opposite direction, you may legally pass the stopped bus at no more than 10 MPH.
Oh, and if you've been stopped for what seems like an eternity waiting for little Johnny to get settled on the bus and you're going to floor-it once the red lights go out, state law requires you to yield the right-of-way to buses that are re-entering traffic.
Violating New Jersey's school bus laws can cost you. According to NJ.gov,
A violation of these laws results in a $100 fine, and up to 15 days in jail or up to 15 days community service for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, violators can receive a $250 fine or more and up to 15 days in jail. Five points are added to a driver’s record for each offense.
And yes, people do get tickets for this. NJ.com reports over 1,700 summonses were written across the state in both 2013 and 2014.
You can also view the 220-page State of New Jersey's Drivers Manual for more information on the state's stopped school bus laws (skip ahead to page 75).