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Altamonte Springs Police Department
Wednesday September 22nd, 2010 :: 01:41 p.m. EDT

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To Stop or Not to Stop - That Is The Question. See email for full story.

To stop or not to stop, that is the question. Ok it may not be as poetic as when Shakespeare used the phrase but perhaps it is one of the most important questions that holds the key to protecting our most precious cargo – our children! Do you know when Florida law requires a driver to stop for a school bus? If not you risk receiving a fine of $271 and 3 points assessed to your driver’s license. But more importantly failure to properly stop for a school bus places children in extreme danger. Unfortunately the lack of education of when to stop is too late for Oscar Russell II age 12, Kimberly Ann Flayac age 11, Robert Bliss – age 8, Joshua Cowart – age 12, Anthony Baize – age 15, Sadie Grant – age 5 and the list of lives tragically and unnecessarily lost goes on and on and on…….

A survey conducted in 1996, indicated that approximately 10,600 motorists could be expected to illegally pass stopped school buses in the State of Florida during a typical school day, or about 1.9 million illegal passes during a typical school year. This morning I received an email from a Nixle reader “Erika” who reported she stopped for a school bus on SR 436 (westbound) at Frances Dr (in front of Chick-fil-A) traveling in the same direction only to be passed by vehicles behind her. Erika believes all vehicles traveling in the same direction of a stopped school bus must stop, is she right? Before we find out what Florida law says, sharpen your pencils and let’s take a pop quiz to determine what your current knowledge is – and you thought you were done taking pop quizzes after high school!

Question #1. On a two-way street or highway, only vehicles moving in the same direction as the school bus must stop for a legally stopped school bus displaying red loading lights and a stop signal arm.
______ True ______ False

Question #2. Vehicles must remain stopped until all red loading lights have been turned off.
______ True ______ False

Question #3. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction as the school bus displaying red loading lights and extended stop arm do not have to stop if the street or highway is divided by a paved two-way left-turn center lane.
______ True ______ False

Question #4. When vehicles are traveling in the same direction as a school bus displaying its yellow warning lights that has not yet come to a complete stop, they must stop unless the street or highway is a four-lane which is divided by an unpaved (grassy) median at least five-feet wide.
______ True ______ False

Question #5. When vehicles are traveling in the same direction as a legally stopped school bus displaying red loading lights and extended stop arm, they do not have to stop if the street or highway is a four-lane which is divided by an unpaved (grassy) median at least five-feet wide.
______ True ______ False

Question #6. When vehicles are traveling in the same direction as a school bus displaying red loading lights and extended stop arm, they must stop if the street or highway is a four-lane which is divided by a raised median.

Before we reveal the correct answers let’s take a look at Florida law:

• All vehicles traveling in the same direction of a stopped school bus displaying a stop signal such as flashing red lights and/or stop arm are required to stop behind the bus until the signal has been withdrawn.
• A driver of a vehicle upon a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, a raised median, or a physical barrier is not required to stop when traveling in the opposite direction of a stopped school bus.
• A bus displaying flashing yellow lights should be treated like a yellow traffic signal. Drivers are not required to stop for yellow lights however should be cautioned that the bus is slowing and preparing to signal red for a stop.

Ah, do you have some questions? Like, what is a barrier? What exactly is an unpaved space? And what about median breaks on some divided highways? Let’s clear things up - A barrier is a continuous permanent or semi-permanent obstruction that makes it very difficult for a vehicle or pedestrian to go from one roadway to another. Examples of a barrier are a chain-link fence or a concrete wall. Traffic cones or trees in a median are not barriers. Also, painted lines, pavement markings, and one- or two-way left-hand turn lanes do not constitute a barrier. An unpaved space would be grass, dirt, gravel, water, etc. dividing one or multi-lane roadways going in opposite directions. This space may either be a swale, lower than the roadways, or a median, raised above the roadways. While "paved" sometimes refers only to concrete surfaces, in this context "paved" refers to any hard surfaced permanent ground cover such as brick pavers as well.

Most divided highways equipped with unpaved space or barriers will have paved cross-overs at certain intervals also known as median breaks which allow for access into a business or neighborhood. What do you do if a bus is stopped exactly at that cross-over? It is the general character of the entire road that counts and in this situation you are not required to stop, unless there is a school crossing guard on duty who is signaling you to stop or there is a traffic signal with a red light facing toward your vehicle.

Now that you are armed with the knowledge of Florida law let’s get out the red pens and commence grading your quiz.

Question #1 is False. On any two-way street or highway, all vehicles must stop.
Question #2 is True. All vehicles that are required to stop must remained stopped until the red lights are turned off and the stop arm retracted.
Question #3 is False. Only a five-foot wide unpaved median or a physical barrier provides the separation needed to permit vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus to continue without stopping.
Question #4 is False. Vehicles traveling in either direction on any type of road do not have to stop for a school bus displaying yellow flashing lights. These are warnings that a stop will occur very shortly.
Question #5 is False. Vehicles going in the same direction must always stop for a legally stopped school bus displaying flashing red lights and extended stop arms. There are no exceptions to the "same way, you stop" rule.
Question #6 is True. "Same way, you stop" rule applies.

How did you do? If your paper has any red on it, you have homework! Reread this Nixle article and retake the quiz every day until you score a 100% for five consecutive days in a row.

In conclusion, Erika was correct when she stated, “All vehicles traveling in the same direction of a stopped school bus emitting a stop signal must stop.” Thank you for the Nixle suggestion Erika, your request to monitor this intersection has been forwarded on to our Traffic Section – Driver’s beware!

Have a great day!

Address/Location
Altamonte Springs Police Department
175 Newburyport Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 407-339-2441

Lt Darin Farber
COPS Section
dwfarber@altamonte.org
407-571-8290

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