Since school bus accidents can be devastating, California has laws in place designed to protect children, bus drivers, and other vehicles. Therefore, it is critical for every driver sharing the road to have an understanding of the following school bus laws.
When a school bus’s lights are flashing, and its stop sign is extended, drivers traveling in the same direction must come to a complete stop until the bus pulls away or the lights stop flashing. This law also applies to vehicles in an oncoming lane on an undivided road. Drivers traveling in the opposite direction on a divided highway are not required to stop. This law aims to protect children departing and boarding a bus because their movements can be unpredictable.
Failure to appropriately stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended can result in up to $1,000 in fines and a license suspension for up to one year. Violating this law because you are in a rush is not worth the risk to you financially, your license, or to the safety of others. When in doubt, it is in your best interests to stop. In most cases, the school bus driver will notify the police if a vehicle did not stop when they were supposed to. They are instructed to take note of the vehicle’s type, color, license plate number, and the date, time, and location of the incident. Once an officer receives this information, they will contact the driver with a citation or a written warning.
Possibly, the most significant potential penalty for violating California’s school bus law can be accident liability. If a driver fails to stop, a child, pedestrian, or another driver can potentially suffer severe or fatal injuries. When that is the case, the driver can be held financially responsible for victims’ or surviving family members’ resulting losses. If a person or child was fatally injured, there is also the possibility of the driver facing criminal charges. Speak to a San Diego bus accident lawyer to learn more.
If you get into an accident after violating California’s school bus law, whether a school bus, child, pedestrian, or another driver was involved, there are critical steps to take.
Immediately call 911 if you accidentally struck a child or pedestrian. Also, if you hit the school bus or another vehicle, call 911 if you believe you or someone else may be injured.
If no one requires emergency medical treatment, still notify the police. A police officer will arrive on the scene to help assist those who need it and create an accident report. Although it can be a terrifying and guilt-ridden experience to be responsible for an accident, you must remain at the scene, or there is a risk of serious legal consequences.
Try to remain calm and gather information from the scene by taking photos and video of the location of the incident, the bus, the positions of any vehicles involved and their damage, the injuries, any road signs, and skid marks. Take note of the date, time, location, and road or weather conditions.
Even if you feel responsible for the school bus accident, it is important to never admit fault. There may have been other factors that contributed to the accident that you are unaware of. Fault can only be truly determined after a thorough investigation.
Report the school bus accident to your auto insurer to go over next steps and ask any necessary questions about your policy to understand your coverage.
Consult a San Diego Bus Accident Attorney as soon as possible. You can often schedule a free consultation and ask them to assess your case and discuss your legal options.