A new South Carolina law designed to protect your children is in effect for the new school year after the state highway patrol issued more than 230 tickets to drivers who passed a stopped school bus last year. It's a problem bus drivers say happens too often.
"We had motorists in the past who were confused as to whether they should stop on a multilane highway or not, which resulted in several accidents," said Darrell Owens of Laidlaw.
The new state law should cut down on the confusion. Whether there is a median or not, drivers no longer have to stop when traveling in the opposite direction from the bus, if the road has four or or more lanes.
"I think it's good," said bus driver Sharon Wyatt. "Now they don't have to sit over there, honk their horns and get all aggravated."
The reason for all this is that students are no longer allowed to cross a multilane highway when getting on or off a bus. "They get on and off on the right hand side so they never have to cross the highway anywhere, so it's safe," explained Wyatt.
Laidlaw representatives in Beaufort County say they implemented that rule four years ago and won't need to make route changes. Although the law has taken effect, bus drivers say this is no time for motorists to be lax. As Laidlaw's Owens put it, "Regardless of what the law is, when they see a stopped school bus they should exercise extreme caution because children tend to be unpredictable."
The new law went into effect on August 1. In Georgia, you don't have to stop on a four-lane road only if there is a median between you and the bus. Here's a breakdown:
In South Carolina:
- You may not pass a bus from behind when its amber warning lights are on
- Pass an oncoming bus with caution when its amber warning lights are on
- On a two-lane road, you must stop for a bus in either direction when its red stop lights are on
- On a multilane road (a road with two or more lanes in both directions, with or without a median separating them), you may pass on oncoming bus when its red stop lights are on, but must stop if you're behind a bus
- There is no law against passing a bus when its amber warning lights are on, though caution is advised
- On most roads, regardless how many lanes, you must stop for a bus in either direction when its red stop lights are on
- Only on multilane roads where opposite travel lanes are separated by a physical median may you pass a stopped bus in the oncoming direction, but must stop if you're behind a bus