Stopping for a School Bus

School BusAccording to the Association of School Transportation Services of British Columbia, travel by school bus is statistically the safest method of ground transportation in Canada and by a substantial margin. We all expect and demand nothing less when our children and grandchildren are riding those buses to and from schools and school related events.

Surely all drivers should understand this and not hesitate to stop when the red lights on a stopped bus are flashing.

Drivers Don't Stop for the School Bus

CTV News rode along in a Surrey school bus and recorded many drivers who did not even slow as they passed by the bus while it was in the process of unloading students at the end of a school day. They also interviewed one driver who became very emotional as he described a near miss when he was dropping off two little girls.

Drivers Must Stop for the School Bus

The Motor Vehicle Act requires drivers to stop when approaching a stationary school bus with red lights flashing. This would cover any direction, so drivers must pay more attention and think carefully as the red lights on the bus face forward and back, not to the side. It makes sense as students may choose to walk around either end of the bus to cross the road.

stop for school bus sign

A traffic ticket for failing to stop for a school bus includes a fine of $368 and 3 penalty points.

Police issued 287 tickets for failing to stop for a school bus in 2021.

Flashing Lights

The school bus driver will activate the flashing yellow lights on the bus as it approaches the bus stop.

Once the bus is stopped and traffic in the vicinity has passed, the driver will turn off the flashing yellow lights, turn on the flashing red lights and engage the stop sign on the left side of the bus.

The driver will wait until all students have entered the bus, or exited and moved to the pedestrian areas of the roadway.

When it is safe to do so, the driver will turn off the flashing lights and proceed.

Video Surveillance

B.C. School districts are installing video cameras on the outside of their school buses to record evidence for the prosecution of drivers who fail to stop when the red lights are flashing. The video is turned over to police to prompt an investigation and charges.

Learn to Drive Smart

Our provincial driving manual Learn to Drive Smart (page 92) teaches that one must stop when you approach a school bus displaying flashing red lights from the front or the rear, no matter what lane you are in. Drivers are also advised that they must not start moving again until the bus driver signals it is safe by turning off the lights and pulling in the stop sign.

Duty of Care for Pedestrians

Drivers must exercise proper precaution when encountering a child on any road, street or highway. This would include students walking to or from a school bus that has stopped.

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Here's another, make of it what you will.

We see there that in 2014, 120 tickets were issued (0.027% of the total tickets issued in the province) for ignoring Section 149.

Contrast that with 2500 tickets - more than twenty times as many - for driving in a bus lane, and surely you have to ask just how police set their priorities? Let's hope that some jurisdictions decide to occasionally install an officer on a school bus (they don't need their cruiser for this) from time to time this coming school year.

Every time they flag a driver over and ticket them roadside, it would be witnessed by many and serve as both warning and education; no drones required, either!

As a parent and a seasoned driver I'm appalled at the number of vehicles that disregard school zones and school busses! There is no excuse for this behavior, Cameras and vehicle DVR's are cheap like candy, the district should just pony up and install cameras on the entire fleet province wide! How is that there isn't any money anymore for kids! 

Let's catch these offenders! Better yet let's catch them and make a website for the offenders!!

Sorry I'll get off my rant box now.

The law with respect to stopping for a school bus when the light are flashing is the law and must be obeyed. One thing though that seems reasonable to me is that it should be mandatory for the bus to remain in place until the backlog of cars can get by..

I do have one question in regards to school bus safety - when I am driving and a school bus is stopped and it's lights are flashing ( and the bus is parked on the SIDE of the road, not in a driving lane but in a parking lane or a turn off area) are we still required to stop when we are approaching, no matter what direction we are coming from? This occurs regularity of Clifton road.

Yes, you would still have to stop. The legislation does require that the school bus be stopped on a highway, but the definition of highway includes much more than most people would consider. On a more rural road such as Clifton, it is essentially the area between the property lines on either side, regardless of the fact that part of the area may not be suitable to drive on.


Of raising the fines and points for First offence to $400 to $2000 and 6 points, that way the offenders insurance will also go up, and make it faster for repeat offenders to lose their license as well. I would also like to see 1st offenders be forced to take a defensive driving course, after all if they are willing to risk children's lives they obviously drive with no consideration for anyone.

I would also like to see EVERY school bus equipped with front and rear cameras so they could catch ALL vehicles that refuse to follow the law and risk Children's lives, all adults that drive know that children act without thinking, so to not follow this law, in my mind is inexcusable, so heavy fines and points and mandatory Education should bring the numbers of offenders close to zero.

I would also like to see speed cameras in every school & playground zone as well with the same increase in fines, points and mandatory defensive driving course.

The idea of automated enforcement is great.

That being said the legislation is not there for automating the enforcement. The amount of data that would have to be sorted through and verified is large considering the amount of school buses in our province. Not to mention the buying of the cameras is put on the school district (These systems are not cheap)

Currently districts with license plate reading cameras have to collect and submit the data to RCMP or local Law Enforcement themselves, in between their regular duties of running a transportation department. There also has to be cooperation between those local detachments to accept the evidence and issue tickets.

Raising the fines doesn't seem to have any impact from what I have noticed. In PEI where a majority of the buses are equipped with License Plate Reading cameras and the fines are $5000 and 8 demerit points (They also have large bumper stickers on the buses indicating such), there are still no tickets being issued.

If legislation allowed third party companies to share in the revenue of infractions then every bus could be out fitted with equipment and then more tickets could be issued thus changing driver behaviour.

Programs like this exist and operate successfully in the United States.

I’m wondering if there should be some clarification on this rule regarding divided highways or roadways, such as Harvey Avenue in Kelowna.

While I am virtually positive that it would be the traffic going the same direction as the school bus would be required to stop, the oncoming traffic on the other side of the no post or medium would not be required to stop.

Am I correct again?

Divided highways are considered to be two separate highways.

The law requires that you stop when you are meeting a school bus on a highway. If you are on the other highway that would not apply.

One would hope that school buses are not doing pickups and drop offs on divided highways.

I think it's worth keeping in mind that in many places, divided highways are not necessarily multi-lane arterials.

For instance, West King Edward or West 16th Ave in Vancouver, or East & West Keith in North Vancouver close to the intersection at Lonsdale. Each of which, much of the time, have a ginormous grassy park-like boulevard down the middle, but only one lane of traffic in each direction. So this could actually be an ideal place for a school bus to load/unload kids safely, so long as everyone on that side stopped in response to the red flashing lights.

There is no time restriction on when one has to stop for a school bus. A team returning from an event at 2am does happen.

So before you go flying by remember those students have had a long day. They may be tired, excited for winning the tournament, depressed for losing, or just knowing their ride home wants to get back to bed. They maybe less attentive than normal.

It is the law and you are required to stop.

So I was recently served a violation ticket for passing a school bus with the stop sign out and crossing a double solid to do so.  

My driving reccord is impeccable, no violations in 20 years.   I have two children who ride a bus and I cannot believe for a second that I would drive past a bus with any sort of flashing lights, period.  I know all the rules and completely agree with them and abide them.  That being said, we are only human and capable of mistakes.  I cannot in any way remember passing any bus let alone one displaying lights in such a manner and struggle from a principle standpoint to believe I would actually do such a thing.  I may have swung wide onto the opposite side of the road if a bus was pulled over, but ONLY if no lights were flashing. I really don't believe I would have done so if any lights were flashing. I have researched this, and you are permitted to pass a bus if no lights are activated.  There could be a hundred reasons a bus could pull over that are not realted to picking up or dropping off children. 

Does any one know how these lights are activated, and is it posssible that the driver forgot and failed to activate his/her lights?   

The funny thing, my vehicle broke down about 8 km past where I was informed the violation took place.  My vehicle was certainly in the area, I do not deny that.  I distinctly remember the bus having to wait for oncoming traffic to clear before it could pass my vehicle on the opposite side of the road. The reason for this was that my vehicle was protruding about 2 ft into the lane as the snow banks would not allow the truck to pull over further.  I am also curious if seeing my truck pulled off, the bus driver incorrectly believed it to be me, took my licence plate ID and filed a complaint.  

Now if a dash board camera picture or video is available, I would love to see it.  If I unknowningly committed the infraction, I will own it and pay the fine, but I really want to see the evidence prior to disputing the ticket, because if I am guilty, I don't want to waste everyones time and I don't want have to drive 200km to attend court.  


I drive a school bus grade K to 7. I've had a number of runners some got the 368 dollar fine, had one today.

How the stop signs lights work, there is a master switch that is turned on at the start of the run, upon approaching a stop you have a pre alarm button you press about 200’ before stop that starts your ambers flashing this alerts drivers to impending stop and gets there attention,you don’t have to stop for ambers, when you come to a stop after activating air brake you open the door this automatically triggers the stop signs to go out and the amber flashing lights turns to red.

On my bus we have cameras and if you run the lights your on video, the video is then viewed and if determined that it was an infraction and see the license plate number it is written up and submitted to the RCMP who then contact the owner and issue a ticket.

Here’s the thing about kids, there unpredictable and I’ve seen them cross the road to the bus and then run back.

If you run the lights the protocol is to blow the horn, this stops the kids and also warns the driver to stop.