Q&A: When do I have to stop for a school bus on a four-lane road?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 7, 2010 

Rules of the Road is an online forum with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices. Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now serving on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.

Question: What is the law regarding school buses stopped to pick up or discharge passegers on a four-lane (2 lanes in each direction) arterial? I seem to remember the Washington state drivers' guide saying when a bus has its red flag and lights on that vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus must stop, but vehicles from the opposite direction on a four-lane road do not have to stop.

Answer: You are correct in how you remember reading the law. That is the correct way to stop for the bus.

Q: My son wants to install an extremely loud set of industrial air horns on his passenger vehicle. Is there any code that restricts or prohibits the use of these devices?

A: The statute that deals with this is RCW 46.37.380 Horns, warning devices, and theft alarms. (1) Every motor vehicle when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with a horn in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 200 feet, but no horn or other warning device may emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.

The driver of a motor vehicle shall when reasonably necessary to ensure safe operation give audible warning with his horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway. If your son purchases these air horns, you might check to see if they say "for show purposes only" as do many of the accessories sold for vehicles. If they do, they would not be legal to use on the highways.


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