Big Yellow School Bus Safety: School Bus Stops & The Rules Of The Road

By: Megan Rue Last Updated: May 3, 2010

Hi there all. I have had something on my mind that I thought I would share. Did you know that everyday here in Valparaiso and around the country, drivers are running school bus stop arms? Yep. It's true.

I thought I'd share with what I have learned and observed from driving a big yellow in the hope that we can be more mindful and safe out there on the road. Some people appear to not understand which lights are which on a school bus and which lights are the cue to stop, and which lights are hazard lights. Some people seem as though they do not even see the big yellow coming.


If you see a school bus approaching with it's up top yellow lights flashing, please be prepared to stop. When the lights turn red, you should be stopped and we do look for your car make and license plate numbers should you choose to run our stop arms. Thank you for your consideration and cooperation in this matter and for diligence in keeping our kids safe.

Bus drivers are aware that you are our best monitor to keep our driving skills, focus, and speed in check. We know that if we make mistakes that you will take action. Let's all be good drivers out there and keep each other and our kids safe. Getting where we need to go at the expense of safety is just not worth it.

Some bus drivers feel compelled to direct traffic in stops and other circumstances. At a stop they wave traffic on before they put out their stop arm, anticipating the flow of traffic and perhaps the impatience of other drivers.

Keep in mind that not all bus drivers will be acting on that mindset.

Your obligation as a driver is to follow the cue of the yellow lights and be prepared to stop. It is good in theory to be polite and let the traffic clear, but when bus drivers do that they also are distracted from so many other things they are supposed to be paying attention to.

At a stop bus drivers are supposed to look for the number of kids expected to be there, the behavior of the kids at the stop, watching for kids who might make an unexpected move into traffic, kids who are running late, in a panic to not miss the bus which can create a hazard situation for the bus and other drivers that can turn fatal.

I have read a lot of newspaper articles on school bus accidents and fatalities. Trust me. It does happen.

In my opinion it is better for both the bus driver and other drivers to follow the rules of the road and not make assumptions about what the bus driver will do, while keeping in mind the potential for impulsivity of young people.

Defensive driving is not about getting defensive. It is about being aware of the possibility that another driver will become distracted, make a mistake or be a jerk.

Emotions that run high on the road do not prevent accidents that can be fatal, but they do create them.

Be safe out there.

When a car runs my stop arm, I lay on my angry horn. I am however not angry. I see it nearly every single day. I lay on the horn so that they will realize what they have done. When one car runs my stop arm, others often follow their lead.

I have known people who have received tickets for school bus stop arm violations and not even been aware that they did it, and this was prior to driving a bus. The driver turned them in.

Now that I am driving a school bus, I am very aware that many people are not driving consciously and that they do not recognize that a school bus is about to make a stop. I suspect they are thinking about the millions of others things that have to deal with.

I can relate. When I am driving my bus, I have to be aware of mind drift and tell myself to refocus on my work of driving a school bus. It has also helped me to be be more aware when driving my personal vehicle.

Some people are obviously trying to beat the stop and run the stop arm much the way people run red lights. Others are just not conscious of the fact that they are approaching a school bus that is about to stop.

So not cool, and so unsafe.

Be safe out there.