Q: When do you have to legally stop for a school bus? What about a transit bus?
A: Most people know that when a school bus is pulled over with its red lights flashing, and you’re behind that bus or meet it coming from the opposite direction, you’re supposed to stop so kids can get on and off safely.
The exception: You don’t have to stop if you’re traveling in the opposite direction of the bus on a divided highway with a median or barrier between you and the opposite lanes.
But many drivers don’t think twice about maneuvering around a transit bus that’s pulled over to let passengers on or off.
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Let’s say you’re driving down a three-lane road, with one lane going in each direction and a center turn lane, and you use that center turn lane to pass a transit bus. People probably do it all the time. That’s illegal in Washington state.
The topic was covered in a recent blog post by Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance.
According to the PEMCO write-up, “Transit buses require the same kind of stop-and-wait patience when they’re occupying part of the lane” as school buses do.
The solid yellow line that marks the center turn lane means passing isn’t allowed — most drivers probably know that, but we’re all busy and have places to go, and sometimes motorists drive around a stopped bus anyway.
Guess what else? This might annoy you, but in Washington if transit bus is signaling that it’s trying to merge back onto the roadway from a bus stop, you legally have to stop and wait for the bus to maneuver its big, sluggish body back into traffic.
I can’t think of a single time I’ve actually seen someone do that — many of us try to get around them as quick as we can before they get back into the roadway and slow us down for however long we’re stuck behind them. But that’s technically illegal.
Now you know.