Defensive Driving Tips for Driving Near School Buses and Emergency Vehicles

Written by Staff Writer

School Buses

School buses carry our most precious cargo (our children), yet we have people who drive by them when they are loading and unloading children, some seemingly impervious to their vulnerability and the tragedy that may ensue within a matter of seconds.

When must you stop for a school bus?

Drivers must stop for school buses according to their state laws. Typically, on a two-way street or highway, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a stopped school bus, whether it is picking up or dropping off children and remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus signal has been withdrawn.

Emergency Vehicles

As we go about our daily business, we are watched over by law enforcement, fire rescue and emergency medical teams. We need to be aware as drivers what to do when one of these emergency vehicles approaches. The Number One rule is, when you hear or see an emergency vehicle of any type approaching from the rear, pull as far to the right as possible and stop!

When you are approached by an emergency vehicle, what should you do?

Upon the Immediatee approach of an emergency vehicle sounding a siren and flashing emergency lights, a driver must yield the right of way and immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection and remain there until the emergency vehicle has passed. Exercise extreme caution around an emergency situation and follow the directions given by a police officer.

What is the distance you must stay behind an emergency vehicle?

Stay at least 500 feet behind any moving emergency vehicle (fire truck, ambulance, patrol car) displaying flashing warning lights and sounding a siren.

Drivers nearing a stopped emergency vehicle that has lights activated (unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer) must:

  • Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, if the highway has two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle; or
  • Slow to a speed not more than 20 mph less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 mph or more; or
  • Slow to a speed not more than 5 mph when the posted speed limit is less than 25 mph

Once the emergency vehicle approaches you, should you start moving slowly?

Remain off the side of the road until the emergency vehicle has passed. Keep a foot on the brake so the brake lights let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped. Driving Safety Articles:
This article was written by defensive driving staff writers and reviewed for accuracy by defensive driving instructors. All articles are based on current traffic laws and defensive driving practices. This article is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as legal advice or literal interpretation of any specific traffic law.