As school ramps back up across the country, so do questions from drivers concerned about safety when passing school buses.

One of the most common issues facing drivers during the school year is deciding how to properly pass a stopped bus that has not extended its stop sign.

Should You Pass A School Bus Without Its Stop Sign?

You're on your way to work and you see a school bus stopped at a corner with no children in sight.

The bus is pulled to the side of the road with flashing lights but does not have its stop sign extended.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is only illegal to pass the bus if it has its stop sign out and its red lights are flashing. This applies to drivers in all 50 states.

The NHTSA website explains school buses typically have two sets of lights to alert passing drivers.

Unsplash photo
Unsplash photo

Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is about to stop to load or unload passengers. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop upon seeing yellow flashing lights.

Red flashing lights and the extended stop sign mean the bus has stopped and is now letting passengers on or off. Passing vehicles must be stopped at this point.

According to NHTSA, nearby vehicles can only pass once the lights stop flashing, the stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving again.

Can You Pass A Bus Stopped At A Railroad Crossing?

All school buses are required by law to stop at railroad crossing regardless of the design of the crossing. The driver can only cross the tracks once it is determined to be safe.

But what about the other nearby drivers who don't have to stop at the crossing?

Unsplash photo
Unsplash photo

According to a WGN report, you can only pass a school bus stopped at a railroad crossing if you're approaching it from the front.

"If you are behind it, you cannot pass if the bus is within 100 feet of a railroad crossing," the article says. "You should also leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the bus in case it has to back up or maneuver in case of an emergency."

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