“We have to be very, very cautious:” Drivers will notice new amber lights on some school buses this year

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MILWAUKEE -- The school year begins for many public school students in Wisconsin on Thursday, September 1st. A recently passed state law will impact some school buses this school year.

Drivers will notice new amber lights which will signal when a school bus prepares for a stop.

Once the bus has stopped, the usual red lights will kick in.

New amber lights on school buses

New amber lights on school buses

The law impacts all public school buses, but only covers buses built after January 1st, 2005.

"There's a lot of buses manufactured before that that will have the conventional red-only system," Timothy Carnahan with the Wisconsin State Patrol said.

The cautionary signal is meant to give drivers even more notice it is about to stop, or that a bus has just finished a drop-off.

New amber lights on school buses

New amber lights on school buses

Timothy Carnahan with the Wisconsin State Patrol

Timothy Carnahan with the Wisconsin State Patrol

""An amber set of warning lights prior to the actual stop of the school bus and the unloading and loading of children. Buses that are unloading and loading children -- we have to be very, very cautious. It actually gives more information to the driver of exactly what that bus is doing," Carnahan said.

While red lights have and always will mean stop -- vehicles may pass a bus while its amber lights are flashing.

"I think it gives you a little bit more communication and usually more information results in a safer environment," Carnahan said.

School bus

Drivers who don't obey school bus signals could face a minimum $320 fine.

DOT officials are responsible for inspecting and signing off on every single yellow school bus before the new school year begins.