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A Refresher On When You Can’t (and CAN!) Pass a School Bus

With school starting this week in districts around the suburbs, now seems like a great time to get a refresher on how to drive around school buses!

Essentially it comes down to this:

The ONLY time a vehicle is NOT required to stop for a school bus with red flashing lights is when both vehicles are on a four-lane roadway and the bus is stopped in the opposite direction from which a driver is traveling. ANY other time, you must stop, even if on private property like a parking lot.

I know this may be confusing, as we are taught to stop when coming at a school bus from the opposite direction…but that only applies on a two-lane road. But…even thought you can pass, make sure you operate around buses safely! You never know when a little kid will run out onto the street.

Here is the full law as outlined in the Illinois Rules of the Road 2021

School Buses

The only time a vehicle is not required to stop for a school bus is when both vehicles are
on a four-lane roadway and the bus is stopped in the opposite direction from which a driver
is traveling.

Any other time, a driver must stop before meeting or overtaking (passing) a school bus that is
stopped and loading or unloading passengers. This includes

Any two-lane roadway, in rural areas and within city limits.
Any roadway, highway or private road.
Any parking lot located on school property.

A warning will be given by the school bus at least 100 feet (200
feet in rural areas) in advance of a stop. The bus driver will
flash lights on the front and rear of the bus. The school bus
stop signal arm will be extended after the school bus has come
to a complete stop. A driver approaching a school bus from the
opposite direction must come to a complete stop and remain
stopped until the stop signal arm is no longer extended and the
flashing lights are turned off or the school bus driver signals vehicles to pass.

A conviction for passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights and the stop arm extended
will result in the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license. If the owner(s) of the vehicle
were not driving when the offense occurred, they must provide the State’s Attorney’s Office
with the name of the person driving the vehicle or their vehicle registration will be sus-
pended for three months.


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