California Motor Vehicle Code 22112

School bus Signals and Stops

Drivers must know what to expect when driving near a school bus.

School buses carry students of all ages to and from school and are subject to make frequent stops. When a school bus is going to make a stop, surrounding vehicles can expect to see the bus show an amber warning light at least 200 feet before the school bus stop. The amber light is turned off after the bus reaches the stop, and a red flashing light signal and stop signal arm will be turned on the whole duration the bus is stopped. These red lights indicate that pupils are loading and unloading, and will be outside the school bus and possibly in or near the road.

School buses will only show these amber and red lights when stopping, and will only stop at a designated school bus stop that has been authorized by the superintendent. The lights will always be shown before the door to the school bus is opened.

Occasionally school bus drivers must stop on a highway or private road where traffic is not controlled by a traffic officer. Under these circumstances, the school bus driver will escort all children up to the 8th grade if they need to cross the highway or private road. The driver will hold a hand-held "STOP" sign while the children cross, and make sure that everyone crossing does so in front of the bus. When all students have loaded and those who have unloaded are a safe distance from the bus, the school bus can safely continue its route.

School bus drivers are not permitted to signal the amber warning light system, flashing red light signal system, or the stop signal arm under these circumstances:

  • When the school bus is lawfully parked.
  • If the school bus is disabled due to mechanical problems.
  • When the driver is helping a pupil in need of physical assistance and the assistance extends the length of time of a regular school bus stop.
  • Where the road surface is covered in show or ice and requiring traffic to stop for the bus would be hazardous.
  • When on a highway where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour or higher.
  • In a location that has been deemed hazardous by the school district and approved by the Department of California Highway Patrol.


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