It's time to share the road with school buses again. Do you know the laws in New Jersey?

A violation can not only put a kid's life at risk; it could put multiple points on your record and could mean jail time.

The neighborhoods along your errand run or daily commute are likely to be a lot busier in the mornings and afternoons now that school is back in session. But those big yellow school buses can act as a warning sign of potential dangers ahead.

"Whether it is in designated school zones or on streets throughout town, everyone needs to remain vigilant — put down the phone, focus only on the road, and pay attention to help students get to and from school safely," said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

When the lights on a school bus are flashing red and the safety "stop" bar is extended, drivers in the immediate area of the bus need to come to a stop as well. Specifically, the first vehicle behind the bus and the first vehicle approaching the bus from the opposite lane are required to stay 25 feet back.

"Think two or three car lengths," Noble said. "Twenty-five feet is not that long of a distance."

According to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, school bus drivers are required to use flashing red lights when their bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students, and until every student is safely on the bus or clear of the bus and road.

Yellow lights should flash before a stop, to warn other drivers that a stop is coming.

Canva illustration
Canva illustration

The rules are a bit looser for certain drivers when the road used for pickup or drop-off has a divider, such as a median. In these case, drivers on the opposite side of the divided highway just need to slow down to 10 mph while their vehicle is in line with the stopped bus.

Fines for NJ school bus violations

Police Lights

A driver who is caught violating New Jersey's bus laws faces a fine of at least $100, for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, violators can receive a fine of $250 or more.

Five points are added to a driver's record for each offense on the record, MVC says.

New Jersey law also allows the court to sentence offenders to 15 days in jail or 15 days of community service for first and subsequent offenses.

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