Traffic Tip: Passing a school bus
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By Julian Huerta
Victoria Police Department - Weekly Traffic Law Reminder
This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code,
Sec. 545.066. Passing a School bus; offense.
(a) An operator on a highway, when approaching from either direction a school bus stopped on the highway to receive or discharge a student:
(1) Shall stop before reaching the school bus when the bus is operating a visual signal as required by Section 547.701; and
(2) May not proceed until:
(A) The school bus resumes motion;
(B) The operator is signaled by the bus driver to proceed; or
(C) The visual signal is no longer actuated.
(b) An operator on a highway having separate roadways is not required to stop:
(1) For a school bus that is on a different roadway; or
(2) If on a controlled-access highway, for a school bus that is stopped:
(A) In a loading zone that is a part of or adjacent to the highway; and
(B) Where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.
(c) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000, except that the offense is:
(1) A Class A misdemeanor if the person causes serious bodily injury to another; or
(2) A state jail felony if the person has been previously convicted under Subdivision (1).
(d) The court may order that the driver's license of a person convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this section be suspended for not longer than six months beginning on the date of conviction. In this subsection, "driver's license" has the meaning assigned by Chapter 521.
(e) If a person does not pay the previously assessed fine or costs on a conviction under this section, or is determined by the court to have insufficient resources or income to pay a fine or costs on a conviction under this section, the court may order the person to perform community service. The court shall set the number of hours of service under this subsection.
(f) For the purposes of this section:
(1) a highway is considered to have separate roadways only if the highway has roadways separated by an intervening space on which operation of vehicles is not permitted, a physical barrier, or a clearly indicated dividing section constructed to impede vehicular traffic; and
(2) a highway is not considered to have separate roadways if the highway has roadways separated only by a left turn lane.
For further clarification if the only thing separating you and the school bus on the roadway you are travelling on, is a left turn lane; you have to stop for the school bus as you are on a single roadway without a divider.
(Example: 800 N. Main St. all the way north to Conti Lane, where there is no divider)
Is this really a legal/valid reason to be stopped and given a citation?
As defined by the Texas transportation code, you can see, the officer would be within his authority to affect a stop and take whatever enforcement action that particular officer deems appropriate. Remember, traffic enforcement is about correcting driving errors through issuing of warnings\citations, and even arrests as a means of education and compliance, to help assure a safe driving environment for everyone.
If you have a traffic law question, contact Sgt. Julian Huerta, Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.