Back to School: know the rules for stopping for school buses

Avoid getting a school bus ticket by knowing the rules around stopping for school buses

As children of all ages head back to school, drivers will once again share the road with school buses. Avoid getting a school bus related ticket by knowing the rules of the road. There is a common misunderstanding when it comes to the law surrounding school buses. Can I pass a stopped bus? Where do I stop? What if I am travelling the opposite direction? Many people are unaware of the rules and hefty penalties that accompany a charge under S. 175(11) and (12) of the Highway Traffic Act. Below sets out the guidelines and penalties when approaching a stopped school bus with its red signal-lights flashing.

When on a road WITH a median

Traffic approaching from the opposite direction is NOT required to stop, only those travelling the same direction as the stopped school bus.

When on a road WITHOUT a median.

All drivers must stop for a stopped school bus with flashing red signal-lights.

If approaching from behind the stopped school bus, stop at a safe distance (20 meters) and allow passengers to exit the school bus and cross the road.

If approaching from the opposite direction, stop before reaching the stopped school bus.

Do not proceed until the school bus deactivates their signal-lights and the school bus begins to move.

The Highway Traffic Act defines a median as “the portion of a highway so constructed as to separate traffic travelling in one direction from traffic travelling in the opposite direction by a physical barrier or a raised or depressed paved or unpaved separation area that is not intended to allow crossing vehicular movement.”

Avoid getting a traffic ticket by knowing the rules around stopping for school buses

Courtesy of MTO

Related: Not so fast: what you need to know about Ontario’s speeding laws

What happens if I pass a school bus with their red signals flashing?

If you happen to pass a school bus with their red signal-lights and/or stop arm activated, you can be charged under the Highway Traffic Act.

The first offence can land you with a $400 to $2,000 fine and six demerit points if convicted. In any subsequent offence, fines range from $1,000 to $4,000 with six demerit points and drivers can face possible jail time.

Vehicle owners may also be charged, even if not in the vehicle.

Even if you are not the individual involved in the offence, you as the owner of the vehicle may also be charged. This charge does not, however, include demerit points.

Duty of drivers when school bus stopped under the Highway Traffic Act

175 (11) Every driver or street car operator, when meeting on a highway, other than a highway with a median strip, a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal-lights flashing, shall stop before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing.

175 (12) Every driver or street car operator on a highway, when approaching from the rear a stopped school bus that has its overhead red signal-lights flashing, shall stop at least twenty meters before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus moves or the overhead red signal-lights have stopped flashing.

The Highway Traffic Act defines a school bus as:

  • Painted chrome yellow
  • Displays on front and rear “SCHOOL BUS”
  • Displays on rear “DO NOT PASS WHEN SIGNALS FLASHING”

If the bus is missing any one of these requirements, then it cannot be classified as a school bus under section 175 of the Highway Traffic Act and the driver obligations won’t apply. Regardless, please keep an eye out for kids leaving any vehicle.

Related: So you’ve got a traffic ticket, now what?

Every situation is different. Remember, you have a right to fight your traffic ticket. At Bulwark Legal Services, we provide free consultations. Send us a copy of your traffic ticket, and we will help you decide the right course of action to take. Contact us today.

Bulwark Legal Services – Fighting traffic tickets in Guelph, Kitchener, Brampton, Caldeon and more.

By Trysten Johnston