Sgt. Troy Christianson mug

Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol

Question: I read that the fine for going through a school bus stop arm will increase in Minnesota. Can you talk about the fine amount and school bus safety?

Answer: State law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the crossing arm fully extended. As of Aug. 1, drivers who violate that law will face a larger fine when citations increase from $300 to $500. This violation will remain a misdemeanor.

The Department of Public Safety reported that 3,659 bus drivers across the state reported 703 stop-arm violations in just one day during the annual School Bus Stop Arm Survey held earlier this year. In the past six years, law enforcement across the state wrote nearly 9,000 stop-arm citations.

Law enforcement takes school bus stop arm and school patrol crossing guard flag violations very seriously. Law enforcement has up to four hours after an incident to investigate a violation and issue a citation, even if it was not committed in our presence.

In Minnesota, motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm 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.

Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists will not find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.

Motorists should slow down, pay attention and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.

Watch and stop for pedestrians — the law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks (all street corners) — every corner is a crosswalk.

Parents should discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus:

When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).

Wait for the bus driver to signal that it is safe to cross.

When crossing the street to get on the bus or to go home, make eye contact with motorists before proceeding.

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

Send questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, Minn., 55901-5848. or Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.

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