Understanding School Bus Traffic Laws in Florida: A Legal Perspective

October 23, 2023
October 23, 2023 Defense Attorneys

With another school year underway, our traffic ticket lawyer thought it would be important to remind citizens of the school bus stop laws in Florida and the consequences of violating them. Below we’ll dive into these laws and regulations.

Florida’s School Bus Stop Law:

Florida’s school buses are easy to spot with their distinctive yellow color, ensuring they’re highly visible to all drivers. However, visibility alone is not enough. Florida has enacted the School Bus Stop Law to safeguard schoolchildren who rely on these buses for transportation.

Under Florida Statutes 316.172, all drivers must come to a complete stop for school buses. This rule applies when a school bus is at designated stops and within school zones. The activation of red flashing lights and the school bus stop arm signals that the bus is stopped, and passing it at this point is a violation that carries penalties.

In addition, school bus drivers also have regulations and responsibilities they must follow. Let’s review these together.

School Bus Driver Regulations:

Florida’s School Bus Stop Law sets out specific regulations for school bus drivers. They should always stop in the rightmost lane without obstructions and in a location visible from a distance of 200 feet. Before stopping, school buses activate yellow flashing lights to warn other drivers. Once stopped, they display red flashing lights and the stop arm. The bus only resumes once the stop sign and flashing lights are deactivated, indicating that children have safely boarded or disembarked. On different road types, there are proper ways to stop and signal, see below.

Rules for Different Road Types:

  • Two-lane Roads: On two-way roads, all vehicles, regardless of their direction of travel, must stop for a school bus displaying stop signals. It’s crucial to wait until the stop sign is deactivated before proceeding.
  • Multi-lane Roads: On multi-lane roads, drivers must stop when they see a school bus with red lights flashing, similar to rules for two-lane roads, even if you are one or more lanes away from the bus.
  • Divided Highways: Divided highways are an exception. Drivers on these roads are not required to stop for a school bus if traveling in the opposite direction. However, they must exercise caution, especially when children are boarding or exiting.

Penalties for Passing a Stopped School Bus

Passing a stopped school bus in Florida comes with severe penalties which our traffic ticket lawyer has outlined:

  1. Passing a School Bus: Minimum $200 fine with possible additional penalties depending on the severity of the violation, including driver improvement courses and license suspension for repeat offenders.
  2. Passing on the Entry/Exit Side: Minimum $400 fine for the first offense and a possible two-year license suspension for repeat violations within five years.
  3. Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death: A $1,500 fine, a driver improvement course, 120 hours of community service, six points on the driver’s license, and at least one-year license suspension. There may be additional legal action or fines as determined by the judge depending on the severity of the injuries.

Major Causes of School Bus Accidents

Most school bus accidents in Florida are caused by other vehicles, not the bus driver themselves. Common causes include:

  • Failure to yield to buses
  • Illegal passing of buses
  • Distracted or impaired driving
  • Pedestrians not observing safety precautions
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Mechanical issues with the bus

Always be aware, cautious and patient with school buses. They are responsible for transporting children safely and can’t do that without help and awareness from everyone.

Contact Our Traffic Ticket Lawyer

To ensure road safety, it’s imperative to adhere to Florida’s School Bus Stop Laws and exercise caution around school buses. Avoid passing a bus, but especially avoid passing on the side where children are entering or exiting. Always stop when the bus’s stop sign and red lights are active. Some of these may seem like common sense but our traffic ticket lawyer sees school bus violations often.

By following these guidelines, we can collectively contribute to safer roads for children and motorists alike. If you’re ever involved in a school bus accident or witness illegal acts around a school bus, document the incident and contact Dale Carson Law’s traffic ticket lawyer. We can guide you through the legal process and answer any questions.

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