New Law Improves School Bus Safety in Arizona
Keeping children safe when they ride the school bus is a top priority, and there are many laws and regulations in Arizona designed to protect kids on their trip to and from school. From strict requirements on who can drive school buses to regulations mandating that bus drivers refrain from using cell phones while transporting kids, a lot of the responsibility falls on bus companies and school districts to protect children.
Our Flagstaff, AZ accident attorneys know that school bus accidents are far too common in the United States and that many of the bus-related accidents that occur actually happen when kids are outside of the bus. A new law in Arizona will help to cut down on these types of crashes by making it clearer to other motorists when a bus is stopping to unload kids.
New Arizona Laws on Unloading Buses
The Arizona Capitol Times recently reported that a new law had passed in Arizona to clarify the obligations of school bus drivers to use warning lights and stop signs when unloading kids from a school bus. The law, HB 2170, amended ARS section 28-857 of the general traffic laws in Title 28.
The new amendment makes clear that motorists should expect school bus drivers to make use of both warning signs and stop lights any time the bus is either loading or unloading kids. The bus is to use these lights and signs regardless of whether it is on a private road or in a driveway.
The change in the law is described as the first step in identifying future measures to increase safety, including alterations to the regulations that apply to school bus drivers and changes in the training that bus drivers receive.
Bus companies are expected to ensure that their drivers do everything possible to keep kids safe, and the companies can be held legally accountable if they fail to have appropriate safety policies or if their drivers are negligent in following rules or laws.
By imposing a new requirement making it clear that lights and stop signs are to be used every time the bus is unloading and loading kids, bus companies will feel more pressure to ensure their drivers take this step. Those who are injured in an accident will also be able to show more easily that the school bus driver was responsible for the accident if the driver failed to warn motorists that kids were getting on or off the bus.
Protecting Kids from School Bus Accidents
The new changed to Arizona’s law is an important one because kids are currently at risk. According to a 2011 NHTSA study, an average of 33 kids die each year in school-bus related accidents. Almost 2/3 of these kids are killed when they are outside of the bus, and around half of the young pedestrians who die in bus-related crashes are between the ages of five and seven.
Motorists need to be aware that children are getting off of the bus in order to prevent a potentially deadly pedestrian accident. Very young children between ages 5 and 7 likely don’t have a full understanding of how to cross the road, and it is the responsibility of both motorists and school bus drivers to do everything possible to keep them safe. The new law is an important step forward in protecting these vulnerable kids.