The Virginia Driver's Manual clearly states, "You must stop your vehicle, when approaching from any direction on a public or private road, a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign" [emphasis added]. The only exception is if one is on the opposite side of a divided highway that is "separated by a physical barrier or unpaved median." You can be fined $250, get six points on your license and be convicted for reckless driving if you break that law.
Seems rather straight forward and something I remember being told about repeatedly when I was taking driver's ed. The only thing I disagree with is that you don't have to stop if there is a divided highway. Like kids wouldn't dart across the road.
I have two example to give that occurred on my trip to Target this morning. I'm talking about a round trip of around 20 minutes.
I'm waiting to make a left turn onto Rhode Island Avenue. I have two lanes going in my direction and I'm turning on to a street that also has two lanes going in both directions. Several cars going in the opposite direction of me are also trying to make a left hand turn. This means one of the lanes coming in the opposite direction is not moving. A car approaches in the other lane. I'm not going to make my turn because I assume of course he is going to go straight. Instead he turns right. Now if he'd had his signal on I wouldn't have had to wait for him to make his turn. I could have made mine and gone into one lane while the guy turned into the other.
The next case is even worse. I'm on my way back from Target on Rhode Island Ave. I'm in the left hand lane. There's a guy behind me. I guess I'm not going fast enough so he passes me on the right. The car in the right lane isn't going fast enough for him either so again he passes. He weaves in and out of traffic like this for the next few miles. He of course never uses a turn signal. At the same time he never really get ahead either. Every stop light I stop at he's already stopped at. In fact all I have to do is slow down slightly because the light turns green and I can go through it. I'm hitting the cycle of the lights because I'm going the speed limit (or fairly close to it). He's hitting all the lights red because he's going too fast.
Must be great to be first at the light but you're still stopped at the light.