Every day, thousands of school buses operate on Texas’ roads. School bus drivers do their best to protect students, but many motor vehicle drivers still put students at risk. While there are school bus laws in Texas that dictate when a driver must stop, many drivers do not know these laws or choose to ignore them. Breaking Texas’ school bus laws can be deadly for child pedestrians.

When Must Drivers Stop for School Buses in Texas?

The law in Texas requires all motor vehicle drivers approaching from either direction to stop for a school bus that is operating a visual signal. This signal includes a stop sign attached to the side of the school bus that is extended to notify traffic to stop. School buses are also equipped with flashing lights, signal lamps and rooftop warning lamps. School bus drivers must activate all flashing warning lights and the extendable stop sign when stopped to load or unload students.

According to Texas Transportation Code Section 545.066, when a bus is stopped on a road or highway to pick up or drop off a student and is using a visual signal, all drivers on both sides of the road must stop before reaching the school bus. They may not continue to drive until the school bus resumes motion, the bus driver signals to the driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer in use.

When a highway is separated, such as by a median or wall, traffic on the road opposite the school bus does not have to stop. The penalty for illegally passing a school bus or failing to stop when the law requires it is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine of up to $1,250 for a first offense and $2,000 for a second or subsequent offense. If someone suffers a bodily injury due to the failure to stop for a school bus, it is a Class A misdemeanor.

Safety Tips for Sharing the Road With School Buses

As a motor vehicle driver, you have a responsibility to keep other roadway users safe – especially vulnerable child pedestrians. You must do this by obeying Texas’ school bus laws and other roadway rules. Keep these tips in mind when sharing the road with school buses to further reduce the risk of an accident:

  • Pay attention to the road and be prepared to stop at any time when driving behind a school bus.
  • Do not tailgate or follow the back of a school bus too closely.
  • Watch for signs that the bus is slowing or stopping. Come to a complete stop if the bus has stopped to receive or unload students.
  • Never pass a school bus that is actively loading or unloading students, on either side of the bus.
  • Watch for students who are crossing the road to meet a bus, with or without crosswalks.
  • Only pass a school bus when it has continued driving and turned off its visual signals, and only when it is safe to do so.
  • Never speed in a school zone. Slow down to the correct speed when the flashing school zone lights are activated and be prepared to stop for children.

If you have school-aged children who take a bus to school, teach them to always look both ways before crossing the road to get onto a bus, even if they have the right-of-way. If they have to cross a road to get to the bus stop, they should use crosswalks and intersections only. They should make eye contact with surrounding drivers to make sure that they are seen and that the driver is stopped before crossing the road. When waiting for a bus on the side of the road, children should stand as far away from the curb as possible.

If your child gets injured in a school bus accident, contact a pedestrian accident attorney at The Law Offices of Maloney & Campolo for a free consultation.