ASK A TROOPER: Watch for school bus stop arms

close up of a school bus stop sign on the side of a bus
Kathy Krinke/Kathy images -

Question: I was told the fine for passing a school bus, when the red lights are activated and the stop arm is extended, had recently increased.

Answer: In 2017, the fine for a school bus stop arm/red lights violation increased from $300 to $500 here in Minnesota.

Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or if its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

Red flashing lights on buses indicate students are either entering or exiting the bus.


Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.), but they should remain alert for pedestrians.

Motorists also need to watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones and watch and stop for pedestrians in both marked and unmarked crosswalks at all street corners.

Students can do their part in helping the bus driver focus on the road and help keep themselves safe outside and inside the school bus.

  • When waiting for the bus, be patient, stand back from the road and avoid running or rowdy behavior.

  • When on the bus, stay seated, listen to the driver and use quiet voices.

  • When getting off the bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.

  • Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until the driver’s face can be seen and wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.

  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.

In Minnesota, school buses make at least 10,000 school bus trips daily. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for children, and they are eight times safer riding in a bus to school than any other vehicles.
From years 2013-17, there were 3,451 school bus crashes in Minnesota, resulting in seven deaths.

For more information, visit this video link about school bus safety:

If you have any questions about traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave, Duluth, MN 55811 or email

Related Topics: ASK A TROOPER
What To Read Next
Editor’s note: Both the Hubbard County Republicans and Hubbard County DFL are invited to write columns for the Enterprise’s Opinion page.
Last week, the United States bumped up against its $31.4 trillion statutory debt limit.
A guest commentary by State Sen. Paul Utke.
The winter months bring fun activities for those willing to brave the outdoors, but time outside in the dry and cold air can be tough on our skin.