You’re following a school bus and suddenly notice its four-way flashers are
activated and the bus is slowing. You don’t observe any emergency. What
could be happening?
Perhaps that school bus driver is merely following state law as he
approaches a railroad grade-crossing.
The Indiana State Police is reminding motorists that school bus drivers must
stop at all grade-crossings, whether they’re equipped with crossing arms or
not, and visually inspect for oncoming trains.
The Indiana State Police Commercial Motor Vehicle Division has recently
received reports from some school districts of their buses being struck in
the rear by motorists failing to realize that they are required to stop at
rail way crossings.
“It appears that motorists are unaware that the buses are required to stop,”
ISP Sgt. Chris Kath said, “or they are not paying attention to their
surroundings and fail to observe the slowing/stopped vehicles.”
Bus drivers must activate their four-way flashers when approaching a grade-crosing
to alert motorists that they will be stopping. They do not, however,
activate the overhead yellow flashing lightsÑthe ones activated prior to
stopping to allow a child off the busÑbecause when the driver opens the door
to observe for trains, the red stop lights are automatically activated by
the opening of the door.
According to Indiana code 9-21-12-5, a school bus, with passengers, shall
stop 50 to 15 feet prior to the crossing and, while stopped, listen through
an open door or window, look in both directions for an oncoming train, and
proceed only when it is safe to do so.
Indiana was ranked fourth nationwide in grade-crossing collisions in 2012
with 105 and fourth nationwide in grade-crossing fatalities with 17.
To view your child’s school bus inspection record go to
and click on the “Indiana School Bus Inspection Program.”