A Parent’s Guide to School Bus Safety Laws

February 23, 2023 Posted In Bus Accidents

To ensure the safety of children who take the bus to school, there are laws in place that bus drivers and others on the road must adhere to. In California, those are as follows.

Seat Belts

California law requires buses manufactured after July 1, 2005, that can carry over 16 passengers to offer three-point seatbelts. In addition, priority is given to elementary school students when seatbelt seats are available. However, persons, schools, or districts that violate this law cannot be charged if a passenger does not fasten their seat belt or do so correctly. 

Bus License Requirements

School bus drivers in California must have a Class A or Class B commercial driver’s license as stated on a California special driver certificate. Additionally, the license must have a “P” on it for passenger certification and an “S” for school bus endorsement. Drivers must also be certified in first aid. 

Stopping for School Buses

To protect children getting on and off a bus, drivers traveling in the same direction as a bus must come to a complete stop when a school bus’s lights are flashing and its stop sign is extended. They must also wait until the lights stop flashing or the bus pulls away to begin driving again. This law also applies to drivers traveling in an oncoming lane if it is an undivided road. However, on a divided highway, drivers going in the opposite direction do not have to stop. This law aims to protect children departing and boarding a bus because their movements can be unpredictable. 

Stopping at Railroad Tracks

California law requires school bus drivers to stop completely and no less than 15 feet from railroad crossings and no more than 50 feet away from them. The driver must look both ways and open the doors to listen for any oncoming trains. They can only cross if they are sure it is safe to do so. 

Understanding School Bus Lights

School bus drivers will use lights to alert drivers in the following situations: 

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is about to stop for children to get on or off the bus. You should slow down and prepare to stop your vehicle.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped to load or unload children. Cars must stop and wait until the bus begins moving again. 

Children are also encouraged to use caution around a school bus and to walk at least 10 feet to the front of the bus before crossing the street. 

Penalties for Violating California’s School Bus Safety Law

When a vehicle fails to stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing, and the stop sign is extended, the driver can face a fine between $150 to $250 for their first offense and a point on their record. A second offense can change the penalty to between $500 to $1,000, whereas a third offense can result in a license suspension for up to one year. School bus drivers are instructed to notify the police of these violations and give them a description of the vehicle. 

If your loved one was involved in a school bus accident, our Riverside bus accident lawyers are available anytime. Contact us today.

Request a free consultation
request a free ,br>consultation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.