Drivers across New South Wales pass school buses every day without paying them too much attention but if they break this unique road rule they could be heading for a hefty fine.
NSW motorists must watch their speed whenever they are passing a school bus on the road.
This rule, which only affects NSW drivers, has a variety of punishments depending on a driver’s vehicle and licence type, as well as how fast they are travelling. So what do you need to know?
NSW’s unique bus road rule
School buses are afforded the same protection against passing motorists as emergency vehicles.
It comes from an added part of Rule 24 of the NSW Road Safety Rules, which states drivers must go no faster than 40km/h when a bus is stopped with its lights flashing.
The warning lights on a school bus are activated when the bus is either stopped or preparing to stop, signalling that kids are about to exit the vehicle.
However, the road rule only applies to vehicles travelling in the same direction as the bus. Drivers in the opposing lane or lanes are not expected to drop any speed when passing a stationary vehicle.
It’s a rule designed to give school kids added safety when getting off a bus.
Debunking fines and demerits
Even though the premise of this particular road rule is simple to comprehend, the punishments accompanying the crime are anything but.
This is because there are a range of penalties NSW Police can issue to offending motorists depending on the speed they are travelling, the type of vehicle they are in and even the type of licence they hold.
If anyone is caught travelling less than 10km/h over the 40km/h speed limit when passing a school bus, they could be susceptible to some fairly hefty penalties, including:
A $123 fine and one demerit point for anyone with a full licence and driving a car or motorbike (Class A). The demerit point total is increased to four if the offence is committed by a P-plater or learner driver.
It’s a $365 fine and one demerit point for anyone who does this in either a truck, van or any special goods vehicle (Class B or C). The demerit points also increase to four points if someone is on a provisional special goods licence.
Should anyone be caught going more than 10km/h over the 40km/h limit when a school bus is stationary, police will ramp up the penalties even further, with guilty drivers facing:
A $285 fine and three demerit points if driving a car or motorbike. Provisional and learner drivers will also be given four demerit points instead of three
A $489 fine and three demerit points should anyone try doing this in any van or truck
If an offender is caught doing 20km/h or more over the 40km/h speed, then the penalties are the same for drivers regardless of their licence type. Should someone be caught by NSW Police, they could face a:
A $489 fine and four demerit points if travelling by car or bike
A $609 fine and four demerit points if travelling in any heavy goods vehicle
If drivers are are found to be doing at least 70km/h or more when they pass a stationary school bus, NSW Police can issue them with huge penalties such as:
A $935 fine and five demerit points to any car, van or truck travelling more than 30km/h over the limit
A $2,520 fine and six demerit points to any car, van or truck travelling more than 40km/h over the limit
If these penalties didn’t seem harsh enough, NSW Police are eligible to issue double demerit points to drivers who break this rule at least twice within a year.
Therefore, drivers need to pay attention when driving around a school bus that is stopping otherwise this unique road rule could cost them dearly for not dropping their speed.
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