Under Ohio law, a driver on a multiple-lane highway or a highway divided into four or more traffic lanes does not have to stop for a school bus approaching from the opposite direction. The driver must stop only if they are proceeding in the same direction as the bus.
A driver on any road with fewer than four lanes, like a two-lane road, must stop for a stopped school bus, whether the driver is traveling in the same direction or is on the other side of the road. Motorists must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus. These rules apply to drivers of motor vehicles, streetcars and trackless trolleys.
When Drivers Can Resume Moving
A driver of a vehicle should not resume travel when the children are simply safely off the street or at a safe distance from the school bus and the bus' lights stop flashing. The driver should wait until the bus begins to move or the school bus driver signals them to proceed. A peace officer or a school crossing guard may also signal drivers to resume travel.
Where to Stop for an Ohio School Bus
If the bus’ yellow lights are flashing, this means that the driver must slow down and prepare to make a complete stop. A school bus driver usually turns the yellow lights on 300 feet before stopping the bus.
A driver should maintain a two- to three-second distance from a school bus, even before the bus puts on its yellow lights. A driver should not pass a school bus unless the bus driver signals that they can do so.
When the bus’ red light flashes, a driver must fully stop their vehicle even if the bus’ stop-sign arm has not been extended on the side of the bus, or the bus does not have a stop-sign extended arm. A school bus typically lets children off at a school bus stop, which are not marked by signs like city bus stops.
A driver is also required to stop at an ordinary stop sign, whether a school bus is present or not. A school bus driver drops children off on the same side of the road as their residences, so they will not have to cross the street.
Penalty for Failure to Stop
A driver in the state of Ohio who does not stop for a stopped school bus can be penalized with a fine up to $500 and a suspended driver’s license, temporary instruction permit, probationary license or commercial driver’s license for up to one year.
A driver who violates a school bus traffic law is required to attend a court hearing in person. They may not enter a written plea of not guilty and waive their right to contest the citation in a trial.
Failure to stop for a school bus adds two points to a person’s license. A driver who injures a pedestrian while failing to comply with school bus safety laws can face both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit. Payments in a civil suit include the victim’s medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages if the victim has a job and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
School Buses and Passengers
The rules regarding school buses in Ohio apply to school buses that are carrying any school child, persons attending programs offered by community boards of mental health and county boards of developmental disabilities, and children attending programs offered by Head Start agencies.
A school bus driver is not allowed to start the bus until any of the passengers reaches a place of safety on the side of the road of the passenger's residence. A school bus does not have to have 15 or more children aboard at any time for these rules to apply.
The term “school bus” does not include a van owned and operated by a Head Start agency, regardless of that vehicle’s color, lights or markings.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.