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Driving with Care: Roadway Responsibilities

Texas Bus Laws

In Texas, all drivers are required to stop when a school bus extends its stop sign or turns on its flashing red lights. This rule applies to drivers in both directions unless there is a physical barrier or median separating the lanes.

Drivers may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the bus driver signals them to go ahead.

Failure to stop for a school bus can result in a fine of up to $1,250 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses can lead to higher fines and even license suspension.

When you receive an ODL, especially in cases of DWI-related suspensions, the judge will include several restrictions and requirements. These typically limit the time, location, and purpose of your travel. In some cases, the use of an ignition interlock device may be mandatory. Additional requirements may include maintaining a travel logbook and attending an alcohol dependency program​

Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop, and drivers should slow down. Red flashing lights mean the bus has stopped, and students are getting on or off.

In some cities, public buses have the right-of-way when re-entering traffic from bus stops. Drivers must yield to them.

It’s generally illegal to overtake a public bus while it’s in service, especially in designated bus lanes.

When Must Drivers Stop For School Buses?

In Texas, drivers must stop for school buses under specific conditions to ensure the safety of students boarding or exiting the bus. Here are the key scenarios when drivers are required to stop:

When a school bus turns on its flashing red lights, drivers in both directions must come to a complete stop. The red lights are an indication that the bus is either picking up or dropping off students.

If the school bus extends its stop sign arm, drivers must stop. This is another signal that children are either getting on or off the bus.

On a two-way road without a physical barrier or median, drivers from both directions must stop when the bus is picking up or dropping off children.

On roads with a physical barrier or median, only drivers traveling in the same direction as the school bus are required to stop.

When To Proceed

Drivers may proceed once the school bus has retracted its stop sign and turned off its flashing red lights. Alternatively, drivers can proceed if the bus driver signals that it is safe to do so.

Failure to stop for a school bus can result in a fine of up to $1,250 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses can lead to higher fines and even license suspension. In severe cases, especially if the violation leads to injury, the driver could face criminal charges.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and other agencies often run campaigns to educate the public about the importance of stopping for school buses, especially during the back-to-school season.

By adhering to these laws, drivers contribute to the safety of students and reduce the risk of accidents involving school buses. It’s crucial for all drivers to be aware of and adhere to these laws to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Safety Measures

Texas law requires that all new school buses be equipped with three-point seat belts for all passenger seats.

School bus drivers must undergo rigorous background checks and specialized training to ensure they are qualified to transport students safely.

School buses must meet specific safety standards, including regular inspections and maintenance checks.

Administrative Rules

The Texas Administrative Code outlines additional safety standards and operational guidelines for school buses, including requirements for emergency exits, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers.

All buses, including public transit buses, are required to stop at all railroad crossings, look both ways, and listen for oncoming trains before proceeding.

Public buses must be equipped with necessary accommodations for disabled passengers, including wheelchair lifts and designated seating.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other agencies often run campaigns to educate the public about bus safety, especially during the back-to-school season.

Recent Statistics

In 2022, seven people were killed, and 51 were seriously injured in crashes involving a Texas school bus, highlighting the importance of adhering to bus safety laws.

Understanding and following bus laws in Texas is crucial for the safety of all road users, especially the most vulnerable—school children. Failure to adhere to these laws not only puts lives at risk but also results in severe penalties.

By being aware of these laws and regulations, drivers can contribute to safer roads and reduce the number of accidents involving buses.

Tips For School Bus Safety

Absolutely, school bus safety is a shared responsibility that involves students, parents, bus drivers, and other road users.

Educate your children about the importance of behaving well while waiting for, boarding, and riding the bus. Be aware of the bus schedule and ensure your child arrives at the stop on time. Make sure your child knows what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency. For younger children, arrange for an adult to meet them at the bus stop.

Always stop when a school bus extends its stop sign or turns on its flashing red lights. Maintain a safe distance from the bus. Wait until the bus moves or the driver signals that it’s safe to proceed. Be extra cautious around bus stops and look out for children who might run into the road. Adhere to all traffic laws, including speed limits, especially in school zones.

By following these tips, each group can contribute to a safer environment for everyone involved in the school bus system. Safety is a collective effort, and it starts with you.

Bus Accident Reporting System (BARS):

Managed by the Texas Education Agency, BARS uses an annual survey to collect information on accidents involving school buses operated or contracted for use by school districts and charter schools. This data collection is mandated by statute and rule.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT):

TxDOT is the custodian of crash records for the state of Texas. Law enforcement officers are required to submit a written report of any motor vehicle crash that have resulted in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000.

Clear Creek Independent School District

On the afternoon of Thursday, May 11, 2023, a serious collision occurred involving a Clear Creek Independent School District (ISD) school bus and a 2015 maroon Chevy pickup truck at the intersection of State Highway 146 (SH-146) and Repsdorph Road in Seabrook, Texas.

The bus was carrying several elementary students from Bay Elementary School, all of whom sustained injuries of unspecified severity. The driver of the pickup truck and three passengers were also injured. Local authorities, likely including police, fire, and medical teams, responded to the incident to provide immediate assistance.

Both the local authorities and Clear Creek ISD are conducting ongoing investigations to determine the cause of the crash, assess whether safety protocols were violated, and explore potential legal implications. This tragic incident serves as a sobering reminder of the inherent risks associated with school bus transportation and highlights the critical importance of adhering to stringent safety measures.

Northwest Independent School District (ISD)

On Wednesday, March 16, 2023, a concerning incident occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth area involving a school bus from the Northwest Independent School District (ISD) and a pickup truck. The school bus was broadsided by the pickup truck in a T-bone type of collision.

Two students aboard the school bus sustained injuries, although the severity of their injuries was not specified. Local authorities, likely including police and medical teams, promptly responded to the scene to provide immediate assistance. The incident raises several pressing questions, including the cause of the crash and whether all safety protocols were followed by both drivers.

Both local authorities and the Northwest ISD are likely conducting ongoing investigations to determine the cause, assess any violations of safety protocols, and explore potential legal consequences. This incident serves as a sobering reminder of the inherent risks associated with school bus transportation and highlights the critical importance of adhering to stringent safety measures.

Jefferson Avenue Elementary School

On a Tuesday morning around 7:30 a.m. in 2023, a serious incident unfolded in Seguin, Texas, as a school bus was entering the parking lot at Jefferson Avenue Elementary School. An elementary school student on the bus discharged a loaded gun, but fortunately, no one was injured. The bus driver, Eric Alexander, acted swiftly to recover the handgun from the student and immediately contacted the Seguin Police Department, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. For his quick and effective response, Alexander was later honored with the month’s Apple Award by Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez. This alarming incident raises several critical questions, including how the student was able to bring a loaded gun onto the bus, the effectiveness of current safety protocols, and potential legal implications. Both local authorities and the Seguin Independent School District are likely conducting thorough investigations to determine the cause, assess any violations of safety protocols, and explore steps to prevent similar incidents in the future. The event serves as a sobering reminder of the risks associated with school bus transportation and highlights the urgent need for stringent safety measures.

National Context

National Safety Council (NSC): According to NSC data, school bus-related crashes killed 108 people nationwide in 2021, up 50% compared to the pandemic-related low number of 54 deaths in 2020.

Types of Incidents

Driver-Related: Inattention and speed are often cited as the most common causes of school bus-related accidents.

Student-Related: There have been instances where students’ actions have led to incidents, such as the use of a firearm on a bus.

Other Road Users: Occupants of other vehicles often make up a significant portion of those injured in school bus-related crashes.

Safety Measures and Public Awareness

Driver Training: School bus drivers undergo rigorous training, including emergency response procedures.

Public Awareness Campaigns: Agencies like TxDOT run campaigns to educate the public about the importance of school bus safety.

The statistics and incidents underscore the critical importance of adhering to safety measures and regulations. While efforts are ongoing to minimize risks, the data serves as a sobering reminder of the work that still needs to be done.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you. We can explain everything you need to know about your trial and how to defend your case best. We can help you step by step through the criminal process.

Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.

Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense case for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that can benefit you.

Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case.

Call us now at (713) 701-9322.

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School Bus Laws in Texas FAQs

Select a question from the dropdown below to reveal the answer:

What are the laws regarding stopping for school buses in Texas?

In Texas, drivers must stop for school buses when the bus’s red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended. Drivers must not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the bus driver signals to proceed.

What are the penalties for not stopping for a school bus in Texas?

Failure to stop for a school bus in Texas can result in a fine of up to $1,250 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses can lead to higher fines and even license suspension.

Are there any exceptions to the school bus stopping laws in Texas?

Yes, on divided highways with a physical barrier, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus are not required to stop.

What are the laws regarding school bus safety belts in Texas?

Texas law requires that school buses purchased after 2010 be equipped with three-point seat belts for each passenger, and students are required to wear them.

What are the laws regarding school bus drivers’ qualifications in Texas?

School bus drivers in Texas must hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), complete a specialized training program, and pass a criminal history background check.

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