After Recent School Bus Accidents, Do You Know California’s Loading and Unloading Laws?

line of school buses in a parking lot

There have been multiple school bus crashes across the United States within the last week. Children and parents have been injured or killed in these tragedies while crossing the street to board a bus or while waiting at a bus stop. These recent crashes show that children can easily be put in harm’s way while boarding or exiting a school bus.

Federal law does not regulate the loading and unloading of students on school buses. State law regulates it and each state has its own rules. In California, there are multiple laws that can help protect children while entering or exiting a school bus.

California School Bus Loading and Unloading Laws

It does not matter which direction a vehicle is approaching a school bus. If a school bus has its lights flashing yellow, then all motorists must slow down because the bus is about to come to a stop to let children get on or off the bus.

When a school bus flashes its red lights and extends its stop arm, motorists are required to stop. It is illegal to pass a school bus when these signals are present. These signals mean children are boarding or deboarding the bus.

Motorists should not start moving again until the bus turns its lights off, raises its stop-arm and starts moving again. Violations of these laws could result in traffic citations. However, three school bus law violations within a three-year period will result in a 12-month automatic license suspension.

Even so, illegal passing remains an issue that puts children’s lives at risk. Some states have allowed cameras to be placed on the sides of school buses to monitor and catch drivers who illegally pass a school bus when its stop signals are activated. However, California school buses do not use cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that states create and implement programs to reduce illegal school bus passing. According to NHTSA, these programs should include school bus safety education and awareness for school bus drivers, students and motorists. Increased law enforcement measures can also help prevent instances of illegal school bus passing.

The attorneys at Traffic Accident Law Center have more than 35 years of combined experience representing victims of traffic accidents in San Diego. Contact us today at (760)798-7000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.