School bus white strobe lights to be used only in certain circumstances

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Ask a Trooper — QUESTION: I have a question about school buses and the flashing white light on the rooftop.  I had always heard that the light on the rooftop was only to be used during bad weather such as fog, snow or rain, which I can understand.  But in my area of the state I see these lights in operation even on clear sunny days.  Is this right or wrong and what does the law say about this?

ANSWER: Referring to M.S.S. 169.442, Subdivision 5, it talks about white strobe lamps on certain buses transporting children.  It basically says that school buses may be equipped with a flashing strobe lamp. Like you thought, there are some restrictions.  One is that the lamp must be permanently mounted on the longitudinal centerline of the bus roof not less than two feet forward of the rear roof edge.

Sgt. Curt Mowers

Sgt. Curt Mowers

The law also states that, “The strobe lamp may be lighted only when atmospheric conditions or terrain restrict the visibility of school bus lamps and signals or Head Start bus lamps and signals so as to require use of the bright strobe lamp to alert motorists to the presence of the school bus or Head Start bus. A strobe lamp may not be lighted unless the school bus or Head Start bus is actually being used as a school bus or Head Start bus.”

I hope that clears it up for you.

As a reminder for everyone concerning school bus safety in general:
• Drivers must stop for buses when red lights flashing — and stay back.
• Remember, children are exiting or entering the bus when the stop arm is extended and red lights are flashing.
• Teach and demonstrate safe crossing for your children — especially when exiting a bus, which is the most dangerous of circumstances.


4 Responses to School bus white strobe lights to be used only in certain circumstances

  1. Thomas Lewis says:

    I truly believe motorcycle accidents, could also be reduced by having small LED white strobes just as it has reduced bus and car accidents.The headlight on,[Federal regulation]doesn’t always work,for a few reasons,a lot of people don’t see a single light,its as if the motorcycle isn’t there,their brains our conditioned and use to seeing two headlights,others treat the motorcycle as a oncoming car,forgetting and or not knowing that motorcycles don’t stop as good as a car,especially in adverse conditions.Sadly some people just don’t respect motorcycle riders,but that’s a whole other problem.

  2. LaJuana Salisbury says:

    Our refresher course teacher informed us that the white strobe light is only to be used during bad weather when “children are on board” ! Is this correct. Not just due to bad weather.

  3. Tony Marsh says:

    The real truth about the strobe is this, during the trucker strike in the 70’s truckers were throwing bricks thru windshields of trucks violating strike. Buses and semi’s are marked the same, so they added the strobe to buses to distinguish them from trucks. For the safety of bus drivers and children.

  4. Lawrence Hiles says:

    The excessive use of the stobe light takes away the value when it is needed. The strobe should only be used when visibility is extremely reduced while loading/unloading children. The misuse reflects the “Crying Wolfe” syndrome. During loading/unloading portion of the route is the only time the school bus does anything different than other vehicles. There is also the chance if that light inducing a seizure with some students.

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