Brian White | November 16, 2023 | Texas Laws
School is back in session, and many children across the Houston area rely on school bus transportation to get to and from school. Although school bus crashes nationwide are rare, they can still be deadly. In 2021, the National Safety Council reported over 100 people were killed in school bus accidents in the U.S. In Texas, there were over 2,000 wrecks and seven deaths in 2022.
School Bus Safety Laws All Texas Motorists Should Know
Reducing the number of traffic crashes and fatality wrecks involving school buses depends on all motorists knowing the traffic safety laws that pertain to school buses. These include the following rules:
Stopping For School Buses
All motorists traveling in the same direction as a school bus should stop their vehicles immediately upon seeing a school bus’s red flashing lights or arm extended. These signals indicate that the bus is picking up or dropping off children, and it is unsafe to proceed.
Drivers who are approaching the bus from the opposing direction should also stop their vehicles unless a grassy area or median separates the two directions of travel.
Any driver who is required to stop for a school bus that has an extended arm or is flashing its red lights may not:
- Stop and then proceed around the school bus
- Pass the school bus on its right side
- Decide for themselves that the coast is clear, and they can continue
Instead, traffic that is required to stop must remain stopped until the lights are no longer flashing and the arm is not extended. Drivers may also proceed if the bus driver gives a verbal signal to them that they may proceed. Finally, drivers are also allowed to continue if the school bus resumes motion as well.
School Buses At Rail-Grade Crossings
School buses may stop at other unexpected times and places. As a result, drivers should always be aware of their surroundings and give school buses plenty of clearance. For example, Texas law requires school buses to come to a complete stop at rail-grade crossings before proceeding over them.
When buses are stopped at rail-grade crossings, the bus driver may have their red flashing lights illuminated and their arm extended on the bus. Even though the bus is not actively picking up children, drivers should still refrain from passing around the school bus.
Other Traffic Rules Still Apply
Though school buses have some state laws that are specific to their operation, drivers must also be aware of other rules of the road when dealing with school buses.
Specifically, the drivers of personal vehicles must continue to follow all traffic signals and signs when around a school bus. In addition, drivers should observe right-of-way laws and yield that right-of-way to school buses when required.
Summary of School Bus Safety Laws For 2023
The new school year does not introduce any unfamiliar laws for Houston motorists. Instead, drivers should expect to encounter school buses on the roads during the school year and respond appropriately. When the school bus’s flashing lights are illuminated or its safety arm is extended, drivers should be patient and wait before proceeding. Drivers should also expect school buses to stop without warning and obey other road rules when encountering a school bus. Only in these ways can Houston residents decrease the number of school bus accidents that endanger children and others.
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