Sharing the road with school busses can be frustrating, and when the school year comes it means even more congestion on the streets. Although the massive yellow vehicles are hard to miss, many drivers merely pass them as if they were any other passenger car.
Alas, this isn’t the case.
Passing school busses in Louisiana can mean major fines for drivers. However, many residents do not know the nuances laid out in the traffic ordinances that can lead to expensive tickets. This article discusses the laws for overtaking and passing a school bus, as well as the fines drivers can expect from violating these laws.
When to Stop for a School Bus
Although drivers are required to stop for school busses at certain times, it doesn’t mean that whenever you encounter a bus you must come to a complete stop. In the State of Louisiana, all school busses are legally required to have visual signs and signals to alert drivers that they must stop before overtaking or passing a school bus.
Typically, these signs will have a large “STOP” sign and flashing lights to alert drivers when they must come to a complete stop. To ensure the safety of school children on board, these lights are activated when the bus stops to load/unload students. Indeed, if you see these lights, expect youngsters to be running around near your vehicle.
Under Louisiana law, you must always stop for any loading/unloading school if you are traveling in the same direction. If you are approaching the school bus head-to-head, you are legally required to stop if you are on: a two-lane highway, a three-lane highway with the center lane being a designated turn lane, or a four-lane highway with no center designated turn lane.
However, you are not legally required to stop if you are on a divided highway with lanes separated by a median, neutral ground, or physical divider greater than 9 feet, or a highway with at least two lanes of travel in each direction with an additional center lane that’s designated as a turn lane.
Fines for Illegally Passing Busses
Passing or overtaking a school bus can mean hefty fines, and in some cases, even prison time. While penalties vary from state to state, Louisiana imposes some of the most stringent in the country.
When driving around school busses in Louisiana, drivers must stop at least 30 feet away from a school bus, and cannot proceed until the bus resumes motion or the visual signs are no longer actuated. Drivers that do not follow these rules may face fines ranging from $100 to $500 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment.
Additionally, violators may have their driver’s license suspended for 30 days for their first offense, 60 days for their second, and 1 year for their third.
Passing or overtaking a school bus in Louisiana can be very serious. In addition to hundreds of dollars in fines, violators may also see insurance premiums increase, and their licenses revoked. However, an experienced and qualified attorney can help you navigate the nuances of Louisiana and New Orleans traffic laws, and help ensure your rights are protected.