Ask a Trooper: Reader responds to 'railroad crossing' subject
Question: In reference to one of your last articles on "passing a school bus that is stopped at a railroad crossing," they said they met a bus at the crossing. They did not come up behind it. If you meet a school bus and it does not have the arm out or lights flashing, you would be able to continue on your way just as this person said they did. I agree that if you come up behind it at a crossing you cannot pass, but that was not the case here.
Answer: You are correct. Let me make that clarification. "Meeting" a school bus that is stopped at a railroad crossing does not require you to stop, and you are allowed to pass by. When "following" a school bus that is stopped at a railroad crossing, you are not allowed to pass a school bus or any vehicle at a railroad crossing.
I would also like to mention there is a new law requiring a crossing control arm on school buses. This is different from the stop arm/stop sign that extends from the left side of the bus. This crossing control arm, or gate, must extend from the front right corner of the front bumper and must do so automatically when the bus stops with red signal lights in use. The purpose is to prevent children from crossing in front of the bus in the zone where the driver cannot see them.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, newly manufactured school buses in Minnesota must come with the crossing arm/gate. However, if you start taking notice, you will see that many of the older buses have been retrofitted with these devices. The appearance of the arm itself may differ, but the specs and use must be the same.
If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send them to Trp. Jesse Grabow - Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.