School Climate & Safety Download

When to Stop for School Buses: Downloadable Rules for Every State

By Caitlynn Peetz, Hyon-Young Kim & Francis Sheehan — July 31, 2023 1 min read
Illustration of a bus and cars on the road, and a stop symbol.
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What’s the most dangerous part of the school day?

It’s when children board or get off of the school bus, according to transportation experts.

If drivers illegally pass a stopped bus that has its flashing lights on and stop arm out—which happens an estimated 42 million times each year—they risk hitting and seriously injuring or killing a child.

An average of about six students across the country each year were killed while attempting to board or get off of their school buses from 2012 to 2021, according to the National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey. The number of injuries and near misses is believed to be much higher.

The biggest challenge officials say they face in combating illegal bus passings is that drivers often simply do not know the local laws, which vary from state to state.

So Education Week collected the traffic laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that address when motorists have to—and don’t have to—stop for school buses picking up and dropping off students.

Just in time for the return to school, below is an original, downloadable summary developed by Education Week for each state on some of the most common scenarios drivers encounter with school buses and what the law says about them.

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Crime scene tape cordons off a school bus as police officers from the Indiana State Police, Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department and Columbus Police Department investigate a hit and run involving a student and a vehicle at a bus stop on South Gladstone Avenue in Columbus, Ind., on Aug. 30, 2021.
Crime scene tape cordons off a school bus as police officers from the Indiana State Police, Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department and Columbus Police Department investigate a hit-and-run involving a student and a vehicle at a bus stop on South Gladstone Avenue in Columbus, Ind., on Aug. 30, 2021. About eight students per year are killed boarding or getting off of school buses.
Mike Wolanin/The Republic via AP
Close up of a stop sign on a school bus. School children are blurred in the background. Focus is on the stop sign.
SDI Productions/E+/Getty
Image of buses in traffic flow.
petrovv/iStock/Getty

Liz Yap, Designer and Laura Baker, Creative Director contributed to this article.

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