With the school year in full swing, you will undoubtedly come across a school bus letting children off at different stops. When the school bus gets ready to stop and allow children off the bus, they will activate amber lights first to provide a way of cautioning motorists that the bus will soon be stopping. During this time, motorists should use caution and anticipate the bus stopping. When the school bus activates its red lights and engages the stop sign arm, motorist should know and do the following:
On a two-lane road, vehicles traveling in both directions (behind the school bus and the opposite direction of the bus) are required to stop when the bus has activated the red lights and stop sign arm. (Image on the left)
On a multi-lane roadway with no physical separation (such as a four-lane roadway with a central turning lane) all motorists traveling behind or in the opposite direction of the school bus are required to stop when the bus activates its red lights and stop sign arm. (Image in the middle)
On a divided highway with a physical separation between the opposite lanes of travel, such as dirt, grass, or a barrier median, the vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus do not have to stop when the school bus activates its red lights and stop sign arm, but the vehicles behind the school bus are required to stop. (Image on the right)
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA 40-6-163) states the following in regard to passing a school bus:
a. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, the driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped on the highway shall stop before reaching such school bus when there are in operation on the school bus the visual signals as specified in Code Sections 40-8-111 and 40-8-115, and such driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.
b. The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways that are separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus which is on the separate roadway or upon a controlled access highway when the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.