Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 28, 2017 and The Weekly Packet, September 28, 2017
The rules and laws of school buses
On Tenney Hill in Blue Hill, a school bus drops off students and signals drivers with its flashing red lights.
In 2015, during the school year in Maine, about 140,000 children were transported on 3,000 school buses by 2,200 school bus drivers over 30 million miles of urban and rural roads, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.
Busing students is a task overseen by the superintendent of schools, with approval of a school board, and defined under state law. The law is very specific in regard to how buses stop and pick up passengers. It is also clear about how drivers around school buses must behave.
Passing a stopped school bus carries the potential for a misdemeanor Class E criminal charge, and if convicted penalties can include a fine of between $300 and $1,000, a 30-day license suspension, and a maximum of six months in jail.
School bus drivers have rules they must follow, and all are outlined by state statute (29-A §2308).
A school bus operator shall activate flashing lights at least 100 feet before a stop is made to receive or discharge passengers.
These lights must be continually displayed until after the bus has received or discharged passengers.
Drivers must stop, in both directions, for a school bus in the following locations:
On a public highway
On multiple-lane roads
On a public street
On a private road
In a parking area
On school property