Question: I was told the fine for passing a school bus, when the red lights are activated and the stop arm is extended, had recently increased.

Answer: In 2017, the fine for a school bus stop-arm/red lights violation increased from $300 to $500 in Minnesota.

Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

Red flashing lights on buses indicate students are either entering or exiting the bus.

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.

Motorists also need to watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones and watch and stop for pedestrians in both marked and unmarked crosswalks at all street corners.

Students can do their part in helping the bus driver focus on the road and help keep themselves safe outside and inside the school bus.

When waiting for the bus: Be patient, stand back from road and no running or rowdy behavior.

When on the bus: Stay seated, listen to the driver and use quiet voices.

When getting off a bus: Look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.

Before crossing the street: Take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until the driver’s face can be seen and wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.

Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.

In Minnesota, school buses make at least 10,000 school bus trips daily. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for children and they are eight times safer riding in a bus to school than any other vehicles.

From 2013-17, there were 3,451 school bus crashes in Minnesota, resulting in seven deaths.

Here is a video about school bus safety.

Send your questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to or Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811.