Ask a Trooper: Know the rules when encountering school buses

Published 5:15 am Thursday, February 13, 2020

Question:  This winter has provided snowbanks — barriers in town, eliminating the turn lane between our east and west bound lanes.  If a school bus is stopped and the stop arm is extended, does the opposing traffic have to stop?

Answer: Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) — but they should remain alert for pedestrians.

With snow banks or non-fixed barriers, motorists are required to stop when the stop-arm is extended and red flashing lights are activated on a school bus and when the roadways are not separated. When in doubt, always side on the side of caution and stop for school buses.

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Minnesota state law requires motorists to stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and its stop-arm is extended when approaching from the rear or from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

The fine for a school bus stop- arm/red light violation is a minimum of $500.

Many school buses are equipped with video cameras and this footage can be used as evidence against a driver if a violation has occurred.   

Last year, law enforcement across the state wrote nearly 1,200 stop-arm violation citations. Failing to stop for a school bus is not only illegal, but it also puts our children at risk.   

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,