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Oct. 4, 2022

Johnson City Police Department reminds motorists to obey school bus law

According to an annual survey conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, throughout the school year there are more than 41.8 million violations that put children entering and exiting a school bus at risk nationwide. Most of those incidents are because a driver ignored the stop sign arm and flashing red lights on a school bus.

“Our bus drivers are seeing a marked increase in illegal passings,” said Johnson City Police Lt. Becky West. “We take these violations very seriously, as they jeopardize the safety of our children as well as the motoring public and pedestrians.”

Tennessee State Law requires all vehicles to come to a complete stop at a safe distance from a stopped school bus when traveling in the same direction. Drivers traveling in the opposite direction must stop unless there is a physical barrier dividing the road or pavement. Drivers are also required to stop for a stopped school bus if there is a two-way continuous turn lane.

“In addition to the potential injury or death of a student, motorists who fail to stop when approaching a stopped school bus are committing a crime,” West said. “It is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of between $250 and $1,000.”

In addition to reminding drivers to stop for school buses, the Johnson City Police Department also encourages parents to review with their students best practices for school bus stop safety. Parents should accompany younger children to and from the bus stop and remain with them as they wait for the bus. All students should stand back from the curb and confirm all traffic has stopped before entering the road to board the school bus or stepping into the road to exit the school bus. Students should direct their full attention to boarding and deboarding the school bus, removing headphones and putting away handheld devices so they are not a distraction.

As cold weather arrives and hazardous driving conditions increase, the JCPD asks drivers to be even more vigilant. West reminds drivers to clear their windows of frost, ice, or snow, be aware of road conditions and pay attention as school buses stop often.

Parents and drivers are encouraged to report locations where traffic is not obeying the school bus law to the Johnson City Police Department.

“The Johnson City Police Department is asking drivers to be alert and allow our children to arrive to and from school safely,” West said.


Tennessee Law 55-8-151: The driver of a vehicle upon a highway, upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus, and the driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer actuated. The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus that is on a different roadway or when upon a controlled-access highway and the school bus is stopped in a loading zone that is a part of or adjacent to the highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.  For the purpose of this subsection (a), "separate roadways" means roadways divided by an intervening space that is not suitable to vehicular traffic.