Ask Trooper Steve: Is there a required distance you must keep from a school bus?

Trooper Steve answers viewer questions about rules of the road

ORLANDO, Fla.News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero answers viewer questions about the rules of the road every week, helping Central Florida residents become better drivers by being better educated.

Trooper Steve on Tuesday was asked, “When a school bus stops and engages the stop sign, how far does the law say?”

“When stopping for a school bus, knowing when you should stop and knowing how much distance you should keep from the school bus leads to everyone’s safety. We have spoken about when a driver should stop when a school bus is activated at a school bus stop but have never covered specific distances a driver should keep,” he said.

Trooper Steve said school bus stops are not random but areas studied by traffic management and the school district. A bus driver is required to stop as close to the designated stop as possible. A school bus driver will activate their yellow flashing lights in order to give you, the driver, a heads up of what is about to happen. Once that school bus driver makes a complete stop, they will activate the red, flashing lights and the stop signs on the outermost portion of the school bus.

“At this point, the school bus owns the road. A driver should never pass in the same direction of the school bus when it is activated and loading students. Same applies for oncoming traffic. If there is a positive median barrier median then a driver would be allowed to continue in the oncoming direction, using extreme caution, of course,” he said.

How close is a driver is allowed to get to a school bus when this traffic situation is occurring? Trooper Steve said drivers should think like their children were on the school bus.

“Florida law does not specifically indicate the distance a driver should keep from a school bus when that bus has come to a complete stop, but there are other laws that indicate how we should be treating all vehicles.  When the school bus is in motion, following too close could be a violation. If a driver failed to keep a safe distance, while that school bus was traveling to, and from wherever it was going or while it was coming to a stop for a school bus location, a driver could be stopped,” he said.

He recommends keeping three to four car lengths from the rear of the school bus while it is at a complete stop.

“The violation would occur if a driver proceeded past the rear or flashing stop sign attached to the school bus. But I present to you the question, why risk getting so close when just a few extra feet creates a safe environment for everyone? I hope my two cents allows at least a few of us out there to drive better.”

If you have a traffic question for Trooper Steve, email him at

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About the Author:

Steven Montiero, better known as “Trooper Steve," joined the News 6 morning team as its Traffic Safety Expert in October 2017. A Central Florida native and decorated combat veteran, Montiero comes to the station following an eight-year assignment with the Florida Highway Patrol.