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

We are all used to seeing yellow school buses throughout the year transporting children to and from school or school-related activities. However, do you know the rules in Florida regarding stopping for a school bus? Surprisingly, many people don’t understand when they must stop for a school bus.

What Are the Rules for Stopping for a School Bus in Florida?

According to Florida Statute §316.172, you must stop when approaching any school bus that displays the stop signal and has its red lights flashing. This requirement applies to all vehicles moving in either direction.

On a two-lane road, you must bring your vehicle to a complete stop while the bus is stopped. You cannot pass the school bus until the stop signal has been completely withdrawn and the driver turns off the red flashing lights. 

However, what are the rules for multi-lane paved roads and divided highways?

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), all drivers must bring their vehicles to a complete stop when approaching a bus on a highway with a paved median. As long as the bus is displaying the stop signal, all vehicles on both sides of the road must remain stopped. 

If a raised barrier or unpaved space of at least five feet divides the lanes of traffic on a highway, vehicles traveling in the same direction as a bus must stop when the bus stops. 

However, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction on a divided road with at least five feet of unpaved space or a raised barrier do not need to stop for the bus. Drivers should slow down and use caution when approaching a stopped school bus. They should watch for children who might suddenly dart across the road. 

What Are the Penalties for Passing a Stopped School Bus?

The penalties for failing to stop for a school bus doubled on January 1, 2021. You can be fined $200 for failing to stop for a school bus. If you are charged with a second offense within five years, the state can suspend your driver’s license for up to one year.

The fine for passing a school bus on the same side as children exit or enter is $400. A second offense committed within five years results in a suspended driver’s license for up to two years.

Who is Responsible for School Bus Accidents?

School bus accidents occur for a variety of reasons. Motorists failing to stop for a school bus is just one example of the many causes of school bus accidents. 

Individuals and parties the could be liable for damages caused by a school bus accident include:

  • Motorists
  • School bus drivers
  • Maintenance companies 
  • Bicyclists and pedestrians
  • School districts
  • Bus and parts manufacturers
  • Municipal crews and road construction companies 
  • Private schools or companies that operate school buses
  • Owner of the school bus

In many cases, bus accidents are caused by negligence. A bus driver may use their cell phone while driving or operate the school bus while fatigued or impaired by alcohol/drugs. Another motorist may also speed or drive under the influence.

Distracted driving by the bus driver and other motorists is a common cause of bus accidents. Improper driver training and overloaded buses may also be factors in a school bus crash.

Identifying the party or parties who might be liable for accidents involving school buses can be challenging. There are often conflicting stories and accounts about how the crash occurred. Without video evidence to prove how the crash occurred, you must sort through the various accounts and use physical evidence to determine who was at fault for the accident.

Injuries and Damages Caused by School Bus Crashes

Children and other individuals can be severely injured in bus accidents. 

Common bus accident injuries include:

Bus accident victims deserve to be compensated for their damages. The types of damages in a bus accident claim include physical injuries and pain, medical treatment, loss of income, brain damage, long-term disabilities, decreased quality of life, disfigurement, and mental anguish. 

A child could sustain injuries that impair their cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Some children may require long-term personal care and medical care. A child injury lawyer can help you document your child’s damages caused by the crash.

A crash is not the only way a child can be injured riding a school bus. Children can fall entering and exiting the bus. They may trip on the bus or fall out of their chairs when the bus makes sudden turns. Horsing around while waiting for the bus or while riding the bus can also result in injuries.

If your child was injured in a school bus accident, seek legal advice from a Gainesville bus accident attorney before signing any documents or allowing your child to answer any questions about the accident. Protecting your child’s legal rights is the next priority after seeking treatment for their physical and emotional injuries.