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Ask a Trooper: Emergency vehicles may proceed with 'caution' even past a stopped school bus

Questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota may be sent to Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow at 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, MN 56560. You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or email him at jesse.grabow@state.mn.us

Close-up of Minnesota State Patrol trooper's squad vehicle
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Question: I drive school bus and am a retired firefighter. Recently one of our buses was stopped — eight-way warning lights on, stop signs deployed — when two fire apparatus approached red lights and sirens. The apparatus did not slow and sped past the bus. I’ve always said regardless of what type of emergency vehicle, they must stop and wait for the school bus drive to shut down the eight-ways (indicating safe to proceed).

According to statute, it says all vehicles must stop. ALL being the key word. But some argue that Minnesota Statute 169.03, Subdivision 2, allows emergency vehicles to proceed. Your input greatly appreciated.

Answer: With school back in session, this is a great topic. That statue you cite is correct:

“The driver of any authorized emergency vehicle, when responding to an emergency call, upon approaching a red or stop signal or any stop sign shall slow down as necessary for safety, but may proceed cautiously past such red or stop sign or signal after sounding siren and displaying red lights, except that a law enforcement vehicle responding to an emergency call shall sound its siren or display at least one lighted red light to the front.”

The emergency vehicle would need to handle it like any other stop sign/semaphore and could proceed with caution. Let me emphasize that “caution” is the key word.

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We all need to keep in mind the importance of safety around school buses, both drivers and children when it comes to getting on or off the bus.

Motorists:

  • Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop-arm. Motorists traveling in the opposite direction on a divided roadway are not required to stop .
  • Motorists should slow down, pay attention and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
  • The best way to be aware of your surroundings at all times is to put the distractions away.

Students:

  • When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.
  • Wait for the bus driver to signal that it's safe to cross.
  • When crossing the street to get on the bus or to go home, make eye contact with motorists before proceeding.

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow
Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow

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