What Are the Rules in California Regarding Stopping for a School Bus?

As the school year commences in California, it’s important that all motorists are familiar with our state’s laws regarding stopping for school buses. School buses transport vulnerable children. Therefore, the penalties for breaking these laws can be significant. You might also face an insurance claim or lawsuit if an accident were to occur because you failed to stop for a school bus.

Keep reading to learn more about California’s laws regarding when drivers must stop for school buses.

Stopping for a School Bus in California: What You Need to Know

The wrongful death of a child is not a topic many people like to discuss or even think about. However, it’s important to understand how failing to obey school bus stopping laws can result in injuries or fatalities. Data from Stanford Children’s Health indicates an average of 19 American children lose their lives getting off the school bus every year. These deaths are often preventable.

One way states seek to reduce these types of tragic accidents is by establishing strict rules for when motorists must stop for school buses. In California, the law states that:

  • Drivers behind school buses must stop when school buses stop and display their flashing red lights (and extend their stop signs, if equipped).
  • When school buses stop and display their flashing red lights and extend their stop signs (if equipped) on two-lane roads lacking medians, vehicles on both sides of the road must stop.
  • Traffic on both sides of the road must stop on a two-lane road with a center turn lane.
  • On a road with four lanes, motorists driving on the side of the road without a stopped school bus may proceed. However, they should exercise extreme caution when doing so.
  • Motorists on the side of the road without a stopped school bus may proceed when there is a raised divider.
  • Motorists on the side of the road without a stopped school bus may proceed when there is a median.

Drivers can also pass a stopped school bus in the following circumstances:

  • When the red lights stop flashing and the stop sign is no longer extended;
  • When the bus driver indicates that they may pass;
  • When the bus begins moving again.

That said, even if you can legally pass a school bus, it’s vital that you do so cautiously. It’s often advisable not to attempt to pass a school bus unless you are absolutely confident you can do so safely and legally. 

In California, fines for disobeying laws regarding when a driver must stop for a school bus can be as high as $1,000, plus the risk of lost driving privileges. Again, this does not include the other consequences a driver might face if they cause an accident and the victim or their family files a claim or lawsuit in response.

Seeking Compensation After a School Bus Accident in California

Hopefully, your child will never be injured because a negligent driver failed to obey California’s school bus stopping laws. However, it’s important to be familiar with your legal options if this ever does happen.

California is an at-fault state with regard to car accidents. When another driver causes an accident, the injured victims can file a claim or lawsuit to collect from the at-fault party’s insurance. The compensation they may recover can help them pay their medical bills. It may also compensate them for related damages, such as lost wages.

The same principle applies when a driver violating California’s school bus laws causes injury or death. A victim or their family can pursue compensation for their losses by filing an insurance claim. If an insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, they can file a lawsuit to pursue damages in court.

It’s highly advisable to enlist the help of an attorney when seeking compensation after a California school bus accident. To recover compensation, a victim must prove that their accident was the result of negligence. This is easier to do with the help of an attorney. A lawyer can investigate the accident, gather evidence to prove negligence, and negotiate with the insurance companies for a fair settlement.

Call our law firm today at (619) 777-5555 for a free consultation or contact us online.