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Failing to stop for a school bus that’s stopped or in the process of slowing down may not seem like a big deal when you’re crunched for time. However, ignoring state laws regarding stopping for a school bus can have dire consequences, including the potential to harm an innocent child who is on their way to or from school.
Violating state school bus laws can result in tickets, fines and other penalties, like points on your license or a license suspension. It can also lead to higher car insurance rates.
According to a Forbes Advisor analysis, drivers who get a ticket for failing to stop for a school bus pay an average of 29% more for car insurance, or about $500 more per year.
Still, it’s worth noting that the amount your car insurance rate increases after failing to stop for a school bus can vary based on factors like your car insurance company, where you live, your age and your driving history.
If you recently received a ticket for failing to stop for a school bus in transit, read on to learn how it can affect your car insurance rates as well as other penalties you should be aware of.
How Does Illegally Passing a School Bus Affect Auto Insurance?
Illegally passing a school bus that’s currently stopped or preparing to stop won’t affect your auto insurance rates on its own. You’ll only see your rates increase if you’re caught, and if you receive a ticket or fine for violating the school bus safety laws in your state.
From there, the consequences can vary depending on your state and how your insurance company treats the violation. Most states place a certain number of “points” on your driver’s license after you commit moving violations.
Car insurance companies have the right to boost your insurance rates at renewal time if they believe the number of points on your record makes you riskier to insure. So there’s a good chance you’ll see your auto rates increase due to a school bus moving violation, just like you would after a speeding ticket or any other major or minor moving violation.
Car Insurance Rate Increases After Failing to Stop for a School Bus, by Company
We analyzed rates from 13 large auto insurance companies for drivers with a ticket for passing a school bus and found that:
- While the average rate increase was as high as 51%, depending on the company, the average rate increase across all the insurers we analyzed was 29%.
- Nationwide has the cheapest average annual premium for those with a ticket for passing a school bus, even though the average rate increase was 26%.
- Nationwide’s rate ($1,454 a year) for drivers with a school bus-related moving violation is about $1,072 less than Allstate’s ($2,526 a year).
Average Car Insurance Rate Increases by State After a Failing to Stop for a School Bus
Based on our analysis:
- New York drivers have the lowest average rate increase with only a 9% hike.
- North Carolina drivers are hit with the highest average rate increase at 82%.
Why You Should Never Pass a School Bus
If you’re caught in the act of passing a school bus, you will almost certainly receive a ticket for failing to stop for a school bus. Unfortunately, the consequences can be considerably more damaging—and perhaps even fatal—for some.
The fact is, state school bus laws exist to protect children and teenagers as they get off and on the bus on the way to and from school. Passing a bus that is stopped (or stopping) with its lights on and its stop arm extended can lead to accidents and injuries that could be avoided by slowing down and following the law.
Penalties for Passing a School Bus
Tickets for passing a school bus are meant to serve as a penalty for putting children’s lives at risk, and as a warning to never do it again. Some states enact harsher penalties for drivers who commit this offense.
Here are examples of penalties for passing a school bus.
Penalties in California
According to California Vehicle Code 22454, drivers in the state cannot pass stopped school buses that are displaying flashing red signals and a stop signal arm. They can only proceed once the lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm ceases operation.
Drivers who are caught in the act of passing a stopped school bus can be assessed a fine up to $695. They will also receive one point on their California state driving record.
Penalties in Florida
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notes that the minimum penalty for driving past a school bus on the side that children enter and exit when the bus displays a stop signal is $400. Further, a driver who commits this violation twice within five years can have their driver’s license suspended for up to two years.
Other penalties can include a requirement to complete a basic Driver Improvement Course upon conviction and four points on the offender’s driver’s record.
Penalties in New York
Drivers in New York can also face severe penalties for passing a school bus that is stopped—with its red flashing lights on—while dropping off or picking up passengers.
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the first offense can lead to a fine of $250 to $400 and up to 30 days in jail. A second conviction within three years can lead to another fine of $600 to $750 and up to 180 days in jail.
A third conviction (or more) within three years can lead to additional fines of $750 to $1,000 per violation and another 180 days in jail.
Further, five points are added to the operator’s driving record for each conviction, which can have a severe impact on auto insurance rates.
Penalties in Pennsylvania
There are several guidelines for Pennsylvania drivers to follow when it comes to school bus safety. For example, drivers in the state must stop when:
- They approach a school bus that has its red lights flashing and stop arm extended
- They are behind a bus, approaching a bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended
Drivers must stay put until the red lights stop flashing and the stop arm is withdrawn. Violators of Pennsylvania state school bus laws can receive a $250 fine and five points on their driving record. They can also have their driver’s license suspended for 60 days.
Penalties in Texas
In Texas, drivers must come to a stop if they approach a school bus that has alternating flashing red signals at the front or the rear. They may only proceed when the lights stop flashing or they receive a signal from the driver that it’s okay to pass.
Drivers who violate state school bus laws in Texas face fines up to $1,250 for the first offense. Repeat offenders can have their driver’s license suspended for up to six months.
Criminal charges can come into play if the violation leads to serious bodily injury, and a ticket received for passing a school bus will not be dismissed if the driver takes a defensive driving course.
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