We all agree that the safety for our children in Mt. Juliet school zones is important.
The fact that local law enforcement has stepped up enforcement and are targeting certain areas in high traffic zones around Mt. Juliet is understandable and, quite frankly, expected.
The problem encountered by my clients is that there is a fundamental misunderstanding about when drivers are required to stop for school buses while loading or unloading children.
What does the law say about stopping for school buses?
TCA 55-8-151 states “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. Subsection (a) shall also apply to a school bus with lights flashing and stop sign extended and marked in accordance with this subsection (a) that is stopped upon property owned, operated, or used by a school or educational institution, if the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children outside a protected loading zone.”
Many are charged and convicted when traveling on a multi lane highway in a different direction with multiple lanes between them and the school bus. Often the lead drivers are not aware of their obligation to stop and other drivers simply follow their lead. Drivers are always required to stop when when traveling in the same or opposite directions except;
1. 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;
2. Meeting or passing school bus on a “different roadway”;
2. On a highway with “separate roadways” where “separate roadways” means roadways divided by an intervening space that is not suitable to vehicular traffic.
What is the punishment for not stopping for a school bus in Tennessee?
The bottom line is, if you approach a school bus with its lights on, sign out, and/or in the process of embarking or discharging students, regardless of the number of lanes dividing you and the bus, you are required by law to stop – unless there is a divider not suitable for traffic and pedestrian flow. The punishment for violating this law is being charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable with a fine from $250 – $1,000.
Often these stops result in searches of automobiles. Many times, driving age students are the ones stopped as they drive in areas where school buses spend a lot of their time. Be aware and, when in doubt, just stop.
In the defense of the citizen accused,