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When to Stop for a School Bus

school bus laws

School has started once again, which means that buses are going to be a regular part of the commute for many motorists. Despite the bright, flashing lights and the blinking stop sign, cars zipping by a school bus as students are loading or unloading is a daily occurrence in Mt. Pleasant.

When should you stop for a school bus that’s got their lights on, and when is it OK to pass?

South Carolina Bus Laws

South Carolina state law requires that any vehicle approaching a stopped school bus from behind to stop, regardless of how many lanes there are on the road. The only exception is when a stopped school bus is at a railroad crossing. Bus drivers are required by law to stop at railroad crossing, so motorists can legally pass a bus if the road is more than two lanes.

Two-lane Road

All traffic from both direction must stop.


Two-lane Road with Center Turning Lane

All traffic from both directions must stop.


Four-lane Road without Median

Only traffic approaching the bus from behind must stop.


Divided Highway with Four-plus Lanes and a Median Separation.

Only traffic approaching bus from behind must stop.


Road of Four-plus Lanes with Center Turn Lane.

Only traffic approaching bus from behind must stop.

Children aren’t always looking for traffic and may behave unpredictably or erratically. If you’re behind a stopped bus, you cannot pass until the bus starts moving. Even if the stop arm has been retracted, passing is illegal until the bus has turned off their flashers and is back in motion.

If you’re ever in doubt, just stop.