Released August 23rd, 2022:

HELENA – Attorney General Austin Knudsen and the Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) are reminding motorists to follow all school bus and school zone traffic laws as students return to the classroom.

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By simply following the law and taking necessary precautions, motorists can help ensure Montana students get to and from school safely.

“We can all do our part to ensure children get to and from school safely each day,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “Please follow the laws to protect Montana students from unnecessary harm.”

“It’s as easy as knowing the laws and being patient while paying attention to your surroundings,” MHP Colonel Steve Lavin said. “These simple acts can save the lives of children and prevent injuries as they’re going between home and school.”

Portions of a new school bus safety law are in effect this school year requiring buses to be equipped with a stop signal arm that can extend at least 54 inches from the bus and a height of not less than 36 inches if a route includes a stop that requires a student to cross the street. Additionally, the student cannot cross the street or enter or exit a school bus unless the road is partially obstructed by the extended stop arm. Representative Neil Duram of Eureka, a sergeant for the Highway Patrol, carried the bill during the last legislative session.

Last year, a portion of the bill went into effect increasing the reckless driving penalties for drivers who pass, in either direction, a stopped school bus that is displaying the visual flashing red signal from $500 to up to $1,000 or possible jail time, punishable upon conviction.

Keep these traffic laws in mind when approaching a school bus:

  • Prepare to slow down when you see the amber/yellow flashing lights. Stop 30 feet from a stopped school bus when it is flashing red lights.
  • When a school bus is stopped at a four-way intersection, vehicles can’t turn left, turn right, or pass the school bus.
  • When the stop arm is out on a school bus and there is a raised median, all traffic traveling in the same direction as the bus must stop.
  • When the stop arm is out on a school bus on a non-divided highway or two-lane road, traffic traveling all directions must stop within 30 feet of the bus.

MHP also reminds Montanans to slow down and pay attention to the changing speed limits in school zones, look for children crossing the street near schools, and not to pass a school bus that is stopped.

View MHP’s video message to Montanans here.

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