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Is it Illegal to Pass a Stopped School Bus?To pass a stopped school bus is illegal in most states when the bus has their stop sign out and lights blinking. In Washington, if you are driving and come upon a school bus with the Stop Sign extended then you are required to STOP.  On a highway with three or more lanes, Washington motorists are not required to stop when traveling on the opposite side from where the school bus is stopped. Stopping protects the children getting on and off of the school bus. If you do not stop you can be penalized for your actions.  You might be reported by the bus driver, law enforcement official, automated safety camera or another means to identify violators.  The fines for breaking this law could be doubled.  The laws requiring your obedience for school buses and other carrier buses with indicators lights are as follows:

RCW 46.61.370: Overtaking or meeting school bus, exceptions—Duties of bus driver—Penalty—Safety cameras.

  • The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus a visual signal as specified in RCW 46.37.190 and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.
  • The driver of a vehicle upon a highway divided into separate roadways as provided in RCW 46.61.150 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
  • The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
  • The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by RCW 46.37.190 only when such bus is stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
  • The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps as defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.
  • Except as provided in subsection (7) of this section, a person found to have committed an infraction of subsection (1) of this section shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the total penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended. Fifty percent of the money so collected shall be deposited into the school zone safety account in the custody of the state treasurer and disbursed in accordance with RCW 46.61.440(5).
  • An infraction of subsection (1) of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180 is not a part of the registered owner’s driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120, and must be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.100, 35.20.220, 46.16A.120, and 46.20.270(3). However, the amount of the fine issued for a violation of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera shall not exceed twice the monetary penalty for a violation of this section as provided under RCW 46.63.110.

RCW 46.61.371: School bus stop sign violators—Identification by vehicle owner.

If a law enforcement officer investigating a violation of RCW 46.61.370 has reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, the officer may request the owner of the motor vehicle to supply information identifying the driver of the vehicle at the time the violation occurred. When requested, the owner of the motor vehicle shall identify the driver to the best of the owner’s ability. The owner of the vehicle is not required to supply identification information to the law enforcement officer if the owner believes the information is self-incriminating.

RCW 46.61.372: School bus stop sign violators—Report by bus driver—Law enforcement investigation.

  • The driver of a school bus who observes a violation of RCW 46.61.370 may prepare a written report on a form provided by the state patrol or another law enforcement agency indicating that a violation has occurred. The driver of the school bus or a school official may deliver the report to a law enforcement officer of the state, county, or municipality in which the violation occurred but not more than seventy-two hours after the violation occurred. The driver shall include in the report the time and location at which the violation occurred, the vehicle license plate number, and a description of the vehicle involved in the violation.
  • The law enforcement officer shall initiate an investigation of the reported violation within ten working days after receiving the report described in subsection (1) of this section by contacting the owner of the motor vehicle involved in the reported violation and requesting the owner to supply information identifying the driver. Failure to investigate within the ten working day period does not prohibit further investigation or prosecution. If, after an investigation, the law enforcement officer is able to identify the driver and has reasonable cause to believe a violation of RCW 46.61.370 has occurred, the law enforcement officer shall prepare a notice of traffic infraction and have it served upon the driver of the vehicle.

RCW 46.61.375: Overtaking or meeting private carrier bus—Duties of bus driver.

  • The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any private carrier bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any passenger shall stop the vehicle before reaching such private carrier bus when there is in operation on said bus a visual signal as specified in RCW 46.37.190 and said driver shall not proceed until such bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.
  • The driver of a vehicle upon a highway divided into separate roadways as provided in RCW 46.61.150 need not stop upon meeting a private carrier bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers.
  • The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more lanes need not stop upon meeting a private carrier bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers.
  • The driver of a private carrier bus shall actuate the visual signals required by RCW 46.37.190 only when such bus is stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers.
  • The driver of a private carrier bus may stop a private carrier bus completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers only when the passengers do not have to cross the roadway. The private carrier bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps as defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading passengers at such stops.

RCW 46.61.380: Rules for design, marking, and mode of operating school buses.

  • The state superintendent of public instruction shall adopt and enforce rules not inconsistent with the law of this state to govern the design, marking, and mode of operation of all school buses owned and operated by any school district or privately owned and operated under contract or otherwise with any school district in this state for the transportation of school children.
  • School districts shall not be prohibited from placing or displaying a flag of the United States on a school bus when it does not interfere with the vehicle’s safe operation. The state superintendent of public instruction shall adopt and enforce rules not inconsistent with the law of this state to govern the size, placement, and display of the flag of the United States on all school buses referenced in subsection (1) of this section.
  • Rules shall by reference be made a part of any such contract or other agreement with the school district. Every school district, its officers and employees, and every person employed under contract or otherwise by a school district is subject to such rules. It is unlawful for any officer or employee of any school district or for any person operating any school bus under contract with any school district to violate any of the provisions of such rules.

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