School bus loading & unloading question.

Ok, I know that generally cars in both directions must stop for a school bus loading or unloading. But I found myself in a situation today that I wasn’t sure how to react to.
I live on top of a hill. At the bottom of the hill is a T intersection with a road (one lane in each direction, plus a turning lane) that’s well traveled, although probably not a major thoroughfare. If I turn right, there is a traffic light about 100 feet, left, there’s one perhaps 350 feet. Directly across the road is a gas station.

This afternoon I left my apartment. When I got to the bottom of the hill, a school bus was stopped just past my road, towards the left, with the back end of the bus stopped past my road - probably about 15-20 feet further to the left than the intersection. Traffic in both directions was stopped, as required. I was turning right, which meant that no traffic was moving towards me, and I could turn.

I debated, then turned, thinking that if I had passed the bus before it turned on it’s stopping flashers and put out the sign, I would have continued, not stopped. But I continue to wonder - there were two options, to stay stopped at the bottom of the hill until traffic began to move again, then turn when traffic allowed, or stop at the stop sign, turn right and proceed to the light.

While there were no police officers, and no one indicated that I’d screwed up, it was just a situation I’d never been in before. So, what was the right (legal) way to handle the situation?

(Just a note, the idea of hitting a pedestrian, particularly a child, when I’m driving as a particular fear of mine. This is one reason I make sure I obey school zones when they are in effect, even when the people behind me are tailgating - I figure the school zone continues from flashing light to flashing light unless otherwise indicated. So this isn’t about what’s convenient for me, but what was the legal way to handle it.)

If the diagram I drew to figure out what you’re talking about is correct, I have no conceivable idea of what the problem could possibly by with you making a right turn exactly when you did.

o                         GAS           o
o----------------< BUS---------YOU >----o
o                           |           o

I believe the biggest problem with stopped schoolbuses is little kids darting out trying to cross the road from just behind / in front of one. That’s why they really don’t want anyone attempting to pass a stopped school bus.

It “sounds” to me (and, of course I wasn’t there so I really don’t know) that that particular problem wouldn’t apply in your case, as you had a clear view of the back of the bus and weren’t headed that way in any rate.

Well, I bet that even if it is legal, if a cop was behind you and you did not go until the bus shut off the blinkers, that you would not get a ticket for holding him up.

Around school buses and zones, you can not be too safety consious.

While we’re on the subject, I have a related question (and I hope it’s not too much of a hijack):

There’s a pre-school in town on my way to work (on a busy street, as well). They’ve bought an old Springfield Public Schools bus, painted the name of the pre-school on it, yada yada yada. Anyway, this bus still has the STOP sign like you’d expect on a bus full of elementary school kids. When the driver opens the door to let kids on/off at the pre-school, the sign swings out.

This bus is generally parked on the street by the day care, sign out, for about twenty minutes each morning. That’s a helluva long time to tie up morning traffic. In fact, few cars stay stopped at this bus for more than a few seconds. I, too, have passed the extended STOP sign several times (OK, every day, but you know what I mean), and I’ve yet to be pulled over for it.

So should I lawfully stop at this sign? It seems to me that once the daycare bought it, it ceased being a “school” bus and thus doesn’t carry the priveleges of law afforded to a school bus. I mean, think about it: I could buy one of those for myelf, just for the hell of it, and drive around town and stop traffic at will. The fact that it’s used for a pre-school seems irrelevant to me; a pre-school is a business and not a school per se. That kids move in and out of it is also irrelevant to me; using this logic, every soccer mom’s SUV should be outfitted with one of those signs.

So what’s the Straight Dope on this? Should I stop (morally and/or legally) until the sign is retracted?

Does your municipality require you to stop for bus “stop” signs? Or only for flashers? And for red flashers or yellow flashers? For example, the busses here are equipped with both yellow and red – you can pass on the yellow flashers, but not the red.

I tend to agree about the private bus thing, but that’s not a legal opinion. I’d call the pre-school and ask them what they think they’re trying to accomplish by doing what they’re doing.

Thanks people.
Balthisar, your drawing is close, but the bus was closer than that to my position - otherwise I wouldn’t have had this debate with myself.