KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — We all have a role in keeping students safe in our community. Drivers illegally pass school buses all time while drivers are picking up or dropping off students, but Knoxville police officers said many drivers may not even realize they're breaking the law.

Let’s take a closer look at the law. Tennessee Law 55-8-151 states, “The driver of a vehicle upon a highway shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus. The driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer actuated.”

To sum it up, all traffic must stop while the school bus is parked, picking up or dropping off students. Illegally passing during that time puts students at risk, and in Knoxville the driver could face both city and state fines.

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“With the state charge you're looking at up to a $1,000 fine and a mandatory appearance in court,” said Sgt. Brian Bumpus with Knoxville Police.

It’s a Class C misdemeanor for illegally passing a school bus.

According to Sgt. Bumpus, many drivers may not know when you can and can not pass a school bus. Knowing this law could save a child's life.

On a two-lane highway everyone stops.

On a four-lane highway with a center turn lane everyone stops.

If a four-lane highway has a divider, like a median or an unpaved area at least 5 feet wide, traffic in the opposite direction can proceed with caution. Only traffic behind the bus must stop.

Knowing when to stop for school buses

According to Sgt. Bumpus, we all have a job to do in this.

“Drivers have to be mindful and obey the law. Police have to enforce it,” said Sgt. Bumpus. “Parents should talk to their children about what to look out for while they wait for their bus as well.”

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