Throughout the year (yet especially in the fall and spring) you likely notice those familiar yellow school buses ferrying children and teens back and forth from Hennepin County schools. Those that drive these vehicles have a special responsibility to not only protect their precious cargo, but also those on the roads around them. Yet are you aware of what standards they are legally held to? Knowing them may prove useful should you or your child be injured by a bus driver’s actions.
School bus driver duties are spelled out in Section 169.443 of Minnesota’s Statutes. First and foremost, in regard to the safety of children, a bus driver must use the vehicle’s flashing red signals as well as its stop-signal arm when stopped on a street or highway to load or unload passengers. The only exceptions to this rule as it applies to the transportation of students are when the driver has been directed not to do so by the local school board, or he or she is able to completely pull the bus off to the side of the road and there is no moving motor vehicle traffic within 20 feet of it. Bus drivers are required to remain stopped until all children are a reasonably safe distance from the bus after disembarking. They are also never allowed to communicate via cellular devices for personal reasons when driving, even if they have hands-free capabilities.
With regard to protecting other vehicles on the road, bus drivers are strictly educated on their use of bus signals. They are to operate their vehicles’ red flashing lights for a distance of 100 feet before stopping on roads where the posted speed limit is less than 35 mph. That distance increases to 300 feet on roads with speed limits greater than 35 mph.