While there aren't as many school buses currently out on Northland roads due to the pandemic, it's important for motorists to be watchful of buses and children.  It's also the law.

The Minnesota State Patrol issued this reminder Wednesday on their Facebook page, while also sharing the video below.

Sadly, it seems every year there are close calls reported where a child is nearly struck by a motorist who fails to stop for a school bus that is picking up or dropping off kids, with its crossing arm fully extended. In 2019, there was even a fatality in Minnesota involving a school bus.

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Not only is it important to stop for school buses, it's also a Minnesota state law.  Drivers who fail to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the crossing arm fully extended face a $500 fine.

Drivers can face criminal charges for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus, or injuring or killing a child.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers these safety tips for motorists and students:

Motorists 

  • Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
  • Motorists should slow down, pay attention and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
  • The best way to be aware of your surroundings at all times is to put the distractions away.

Students

  • When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.
  • Wait for the bus driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.

Personally, I think the only way to get all motorists on board with this seemingly common sense law is to drastically increase the penalty for first time offenders, including a temporary loss of license.