School is back in session, which means the familiar big yellow buses are hitting the roads.

Each year, the Washington State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Bureau (CVEB) works in partnership with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to inspect every school bus in the state. The goal is to keep everyone safe out on the roadways, especially our kids.

Every year we get asked: When are you supposed to stop for a school bus?

Before we answer, let’s go over a few basics…

A two-lane road = one lane in each direction

Multi-lane road = three or more lanes which can include a turn lane

Divided road = must have a median, barrier, or marked space wider than 18 inches between lanes traveling in the opposite direction of each other

So to answer the question of “when to stop,” here’s Former Sergeant (and current Lieutenant) James Prouty:


  • You must ALWAYS stop if you are traveling in the same direction as the school bus.
  • On a two-lane road, traffic in both directions need to stop.
  • If there are three or more lanes, or a divided roadway, you are not required to stop if you’re traveling in the opposite direction of the bus.
  • Please keep in mind, that even if you are not required to stop, you need to proceed with caution.
  • Failure to stop for a school bus can run you a $430 citation.

To read Washington’s law on stopping for school buses, you can visit the State Legislatures website here:

We hope you all have a safe school year!