School-BusLumbering yellow school buses are already making practice runs down Iowa’s rural roads and busy city streets.

Soon, they’ll be carrying thousands of kids to and from class, on field trips and to sporting events. Iowans are being reminded about the rules of the road involving school buses.

Rose White, at AAA-Iowa, says the easiest rule to remember is to stay alert for the big buses and their precious cargo.

White says, “When the red stop lights and stop arm are activated, a driver must stop and remain stopped until the bus driver retracts the stop arm and deactivates the red warning lights.” Motorists who are right behind a stopping school bus shouldn’t pull right up to the bumper. “Drivers should stop a reasonable distance from the bus to allow the children to safely cross the street,” White says. “Always slow down when approaching or overtaking a bus and be prepared to stop.”

If you see a bus slowing down in traffic, it’s best to approach it with caution and plan to come to a complete stop yourself. White says, “The only exception occurs when approaching a school bus in the opposite direction on a roadway divided by a median.”

Iowa lawmakers raised the penalties for passing a stopped school bus in 2012 after a girl from Northwood was struck and killed as she crossed a highway to board a stopped school bus. The fine is now at least $250 for a first violation and the convicted driver loses their license for a month. A second conviction will bring even heftier fines and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.