How do school bus safety standards impact accidents in San Diego?

California – February 23, 2023

California accident victims who have suffered harm during a school bus crash should talk to an experienced bus accident lawyer to determine if deviation from safety standards had any bearing.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims school buses are the safest vehicles on the road and children are safer riding buses to school than traveling by car as fatally injury on school transportation vehicles is less than one percent of nationwide fatalities. Experienced bus accident attorneys can build winning cases to support damage compensation through their knowledge of the laws that regulate school bus travel, including driver screening, bus design including use of seatbelt, and proficiency to ensure passenger safety.


School buses are required to carry higher insurance coverages governed by state law requirements outlining the amount of liability coverage required for school bus insurance. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if a bus carries over 15 passengers, the bus must carry at least $5,000,000 in liability insurance coverage. Buses carrying fewer than 15 passengers must carry at least $1,500,000 in insurance coverage. While these amounts are the minimum limits, it is rare that buses will carry more than $5,000,000 in insurance.

Design of school bus.

School bus safety standards are higher than regular government-controlled transit and private buses. Federal regulations also require other passenger vehicles sharing the roadway with school buses to adhere to certain driving patterns and strict rules to ensure school bus safety. As the most regulated vehicles on the road, school buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries; and in every state, stop-arm laws protect children from other motorists.

  • Visibility. School buses are designed to be highly visible and include safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors, and stop-sign arms. They also include protective seating, high crush standards and rollover protection features.
  • Entering and exiting school buses. Laws protect students as they enter or exit the bus through laws that punish drivers who illegally pass a school bus while dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of the direction of approach.
  • Seatbelt use. Not required on larger buses due to their protective design but are required on smaller buses and students must buckle up.

 Causes of school bus accidents.

  • Poor training of bus drivers,
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
  • Distracted driving,
  • Limitations to bus driver visibility,
  • Aggressive driving techniques, speeding, or dangerous maneuvering,
  • Sudden acceleration, or braking,
  • Poor bus maintenance,
  • Fault of other vehicle drivers.

Recoverable damage compensation.

An experienced bus accident attorney will work with insurance companies after an accident, to determine fair valuations of property, residual bodily harm, and wrongful death, and make certain an insurance company offers comprehensive compensatory and punitive damages to cover all victim’s losses.  A lawyer who is familiar with Federal and California school bus carrier laws can be reached at the Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, and can be resourceful in the personal injury case against a negligent party.

 Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation
501 West Broadway, Suite 1650
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-233-8021
Fax: 619-233-3730


  1. Information for School Bus Operators | FMCSA (dot.gov)
  2. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety
  3. http://www.yellowbuses.org/
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