California School Bus Stop Law | School Bus Regulations

February 22, 2023 Posted In Bus Accidents

School bus accidents are often catastrophic. Therefore, California has a school bus stop law and other bus regulations in an effort to keep children and others on the road safe. 

California’s School Bus Stop Law

California’s school bus stop law is in place to protect children when they are loading on or 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 then wait until the bus pulls away or the lights stop flashing to proceed. This law also applies to vehicles in an oncoming lane if they are traveling on an undivided road. However, if the road is divided, drivers traveling in the opposite direction are not required to stop.  

Penalties for Violating California’s School Bus Law

Drivers can be fined up to $1,000 and face a license suspension for up to one year for failing to appropriately stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended. Even if a driver is not stopped by a police officer at the time of the incident, the school bus driver is trained to notify the police when a vehicle violates this law. As a result, drivers can still be contacted and penalized at a later time.

School Bus Regulations

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

Correct Mirror Adjustment

Bus drivers must check each mirror before driving to ensure a maximum viewing area. That way, the driver can observe all danger zones around the bus to look for students, traffic, and any other objects in these areas. 

Railroad Tracks

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


All stops are approved by the school district prior to making the stop. Therefore, drivers will not let students off the bus at places other than the regular bus stop without written approval. When approaching a stop, drivers must slow their speed, look for pedestrians and other objects or traffic, continuously check mirrors, turn on the right turn signal, activate amber warning lights if they have them, and move as far to the right as possible. Additionally, the front bumper should be at least 10 feet away from students at the stop, the bus should remain in park, the alternating red lights on, and the stop arm extended. 

Loading Procedures

Bus drivers must signal to students when they should board and wait until all are seated to begin driving.  

Unloading Procedures

The students should remain seated until told to exit, and advised to walk at least 10 feet away from the side of the bus and cross in front of the bus if they need to so that the driver can easily see them. 

Planning for Emergencies 

As a general rule, school bus drivers are instructed to keep students on the bus during emergencies unless evacuation is necessary. A student assistant can lead students to the nearest safe place. The driver must account for all students, check their safety, and set out emergency warning devices if necessary, then prepare information for emergency responders. If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus accident, contact our Riverside bus accident attorneys today.

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