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As students return to class, a reminder of the rules for driving near school buses in Minnesota

Most Minnesota students returned to school on Tuesday.

The start of the new school year brings with it the usual warnings from police and education officials about school bus safety.

Every year, more than 1,000 drivers are punished in Minnesota for putting students at risk by driving around a stopped school bus as children get on or off.

So here's a reminder about what the rules are when you approach a school bus on state roads.

– Flashing red lights mean that students are either getting on or off a bus, and so might cross the road in front of the bus.

– If a school bus' red lights are flashing and/or its stop arm is extended, you must stop at least 20 feet from the bus if you're approaching from both the rear and the front on undivided roads.

– You can move again until the lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been retracted.

– Drivers are not allowed to pass a school bus on the right-hand side (the door side) of a school bus that's flashing its amber pre-warning signals.

– You don't need to stop if you're on the opposite side of a divided roadway (ie. there's a median between the carriageways), but you should be aware that children could still be crossing.

– If you're following a school bus, be aware that buses and other commercial vehicles are required by law to stop and look when crossing railroad tracks.

The Minnesota Legislature last year enacted a new law that increased the fines for not stopping for school buses from $300 to $500.

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