School Bus Questions on Your DMV Test

School Bus - Photo by: Infrogmation

Expect Questions about School Buses on Your DMV Test

When summer is over, school buses return to the roads. Learn how to share the roads with school buses and the laws in your State. Not only because questions about school buses are very common on the DMV knowledge test, but because you want to avoid potentially tragic accidents and unnecessary penalties.

Avoid Distractions

Our lives are filled with distractions, but we simply must put them aside and focus on the road ahead when we get behind the wheel,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Even a momentary distraction – especially around school buses and in school zones – can lead to tragedy.

You need to be alert and look for children every time you drive through a school zone, not only during school hours. Some States have laws or local ordinances against using cell phones in school zones. Make sure you obey them. Your call can usually wait.

Amber Flashing Lights

Do you know what the amber flashing lights mean? How should you react when the amber lights on top a school bus starts flashing? If you have already started to pass a school bus, should you proceed?

When amber lights begin flashing on top of a school bus, they mean that the school bus is slowing down and preparing to stop. In general, you are not prohibited to pass and overtake the school bus in this situation, but you must proceed with care. Remember, children are often unpredictable and your view to the sides are limited while passing the bus.

Your best course of action is to slow down an be prepared to stop, if you can do so safely.

Red Flashing Lights Means Stop

When the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, you are required to stop in from all directions. Some States require that you keep a distance of at least 10 feet or 20 feet from the bus. You are, however, rarely asked about these specific distances on your DMV knowledge test – just remember that you should always keep a good distance to the bus so you can see ahead and to the sides, and so that the bus driver can see you.

When You Don’t Need to Stop

Remember, the general rule is that you must stop when approaching a stopped school bus from ANY direction. All States have one exception to this rule. The most common one says that you need not stop when the school bus is on a different roadway, or when the school bus is stopped upon a controlled-access highway in a loading zone and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the highway.

A different roadway is often defined as a highway clearly separated by a divider, such as concrete barriers or grass medians. In a few States, you need not stop when approaching from the other direction on multi-lane highways.

Look up this rule and the exception in you State’s driver handbook or manual, it is one of the most important rules learn. Make sure you fully know and understand when you must stop and when you may proceed with caution.

Even if you do not need to stop, you must remain careful and watch for children trying to cross the road to catch the bus.


Penalties for failing to stop for a school bus are harsh. If you are convicted, you usually face a heavy fine, several points on your driving record and a possible license suspension. Details about these penalties may be listed in your manual and, if so, they could show up on your written knowledge test.

Speed Limits in School Zones

More often, though, your DMV test will have questions about speed limits in school zones (usually 15 or 20 mph) and when they are in effect. Remember to slow down when approaching a school zone and to be cautious at all times.

If there are any questions about speed limits on your DMV test, the two most common ones are about speed limits in school zones and the meaning of the “basic speed rule”. The last one means you may never driver faster than current conditions allow.

Photo credit: Infrogmation

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