Ask a JAG: Passing Buses On and Off Post

Buses line up outside of Böblingen Elementary/Middle School on Panzer Kaserne as students load onto them for the ride home. Roughly 83 bus routes serve the 2,000 students in Stuttgart DODDS schools, and it falls on the shoulders of five personnel to manage all of those routes and provide customer service to all of the students’ families.

By CPT Keenan Daniels and German Attorney Anna-Maria Pfeffer

The new school year is upon us, with both German Schools and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools in session. This being the case, there are many more buses on the road and many more opportunities for drivers to make a mistake. The rules for when and how to pass a stopped bus can be a little unclear, this article will explain how to legally pass a bus that has stopped to let passengers on or off.

First, it is always prohibited to pass any vehicle when the lane is marked with a solid white line. Further it is illegal to pass a bus that has stopped on a U.S. installation. Put more simply, if you are on post and a bus stops in front of you, then you must wait until that bus continues to move before you can do the same.

Contrarily, when driving off post it is legal to pass a bus that has stopped to let passengers on or off. However, buses may only be passed with care. Caution is expected not only when the bus is in front of you, but also when it is stopped in the oncoming lane. These prohibitions apply to regularly scheduled public buses and marked school buses which stop at bus stops, especially but not only with the warning blinking lights switched on. Stopped buses may only be passed at walking pace and only at such a distance that passengers are not endangered. Walking pace also applies to oncoming traffic on the same roadway. These prohibitions are intended to protect inattentive pedestrians that may run across the street to catch the waiting bus. Do not impede upon the right of way of passengers getting on or off of the buses. If necessary, the driver of the vehicle must wait. Also, scheduled buses and school buses shall be given the opportunity to depart from marked stops. If necessary, other vehicles must wait.

These rules can be found in AE Pam 190-34 section 20 paragraph b and AE Pam 550-19-AppE section 20 of the German Road Traffic Ordinance.

Drive safely!