school children offloading from a school bus safe because of texas laws

Does Texas Require Drivers To Stop for School Buses?

Without thinking, we entrust school bus drivers with our children’s well-being and believe that the bus driver, the bus manufacturer, the school, and other drivers will follow through with their duty of care. But that isn’t always the case. School zones can be chaotic places where children may dash in and out of traffic, seemingly out of nowhere, and, unfortunately, catastrophic school bus accidents can and do happen. The problem? Many drivers do not know when it is safe and legal to pass or stop for a school bus.

According to the Texas Education Agency’s 2021–22 Bus Accident Report, there were 1,412 school bus accidents in the Lone Star State during the school year, which resulted in 272 student injuries, 36 driver injuries, and 28 other adult injuries. Three reported cases of catastrophic injuries tragically resulted in the deaths of one student and one adult.

These numbers illustrate just how devastating school bus crashes can be. If drivers are not familiar with Texas school bus laws or choose to disregard them, the results can be deadly for child pedestrians. Learning more about Texas school bus laws can help drivers ensure that children travel to and from school safely every day.

When Should Texas Drivers Stop for School Buses?

According to Texas school bus laws, outlined under Texas Transportation Code Section 545.006, all drivers approaching a school bus from either direction must stop completely before reaching the bus if the bus extends a stop sign, turns on its flashing red lights, or operates other visual signals. These visual signals and others, such as flashing lights, signal lamps, and rooftop lamps, notify traffic that the school bus is picking up or dropping off students.

If a school bus is flashing its yellow lights, it’s a visual signal that the school bus driver is getting ready to pull over to pick up or drop off students. This means that approaching drivers should slow down and prepare to stop. Don’t pass a school bus when its yellow lights start flashing. 

A driver also has a duty to stop for a school bus operating its stop sign and other visual signals if they are on the opposite side of a two-lane road without a median or wall.

When Can Texas Drivers Pass a School Bus?

Drivers approaching a school bus in Texas are required to come to a complete stop and can only pass the bus if:

  • The school bus driver signals them to proceed. 
  • The school bus resumes motion.
  • The visual signals are no longer in use.
  • They are on a different roadway on a highway, separated by a median or wall.
  • They are on a controlled-access highway.

What Penalties Could Drivers Face for Illegally Passing a Stopped School Bus in Texas?

While a school bus driver may strive to ensure the safety of students on the road, the negligent actions of other drivers — such as inattention and speeding — can still put student lives at risk. This is where Texas school bus laws come in. Texas has strict school bus laws that all drivers must follow to help keep kids safe. 

Violating Texas’s school bus laws, for example, by failing to stop for school buses when the law requires, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,250 and not less than $500. The offending driver could also face other consequences for a second or subsequent offense, including:

  • A fine of not less than $1,000 and up to $2,000 
  • Up to 6 months of driver’s license suspension 
  • Community service

If a school bus accident results in bodily injury due to a driver’s failure to stop, it is a Class A misdemeanor and a state jail felony if the offending driver has been previously convicted of the same offense. 

Why Is Stopping for a School Bus Important?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, less than 1% of the national motor vehicle accident fatalities involve children on school buses and vans. Children are most vulnerable when they are leaving or approaching a school bus.

Drivers have to remember that kids don’t always do what you expect them to do. Sometimes, they can dart out to cross the street when getting off a bus or fail to look for traffic before entering a roadway. As the driver, you are responsible for being prepared to react to these situations. This is why drivers must stay alert in school zones and around school buses. Always stop for school buses, and do not attempt to pass. Stopping for school buses helps ensure our children’s safety on and off school buses.

Safety Tips for Motorists Sharing the Road With School Buses

As a driver in Texas, you have a duty to drive safely, carefully, and under Texas traffic laws to keep other road users safe, especially vulnerable child pedestrians. Obeying Texas school bus laws and taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of bus accidents are the first steps toward keeping children safe and avoiding costly penalties.

The Texas Department of Public Safety offers several school bus safety tips for driving in school zones and when sharing the road with school buses. They include:

  • Follow at a safe distance. Don’t tailgate or follow a school bus too closely. Keep in mind that school buses make frequent stops. 
  • Exercise caution when approaching railroad crossings. School buses in Texas are legally required to stop at railroad crossings.
  • Slow down. In addition to obeying speed limits in school zones, please slow down and prepare to stop when approaching a school bus instead of speeding up to pass.
  • Stop for school buses. If you spot a school bus with its red lights flashing, a stop sign out, or other visual signals, make sure to hit the brakes regardless of what direction you’re headed. Stay put until the bus starts moving, the lights stop flashing, or the school bus driver gives you the green light to go.
  • Stay alert. Pay attention to the road and watch for visual signals indicating that the bus is slowing or stopping. Come to a complete stop if the school bus’s visual signals are turned on and only pass when it is safe and legal. Also, be on the lookout for students. Don’t assume they’re keeping an eye on traffic. Children can appear suddenly and without notice from behind a stopped school bus. Students can also get caught up with mobile devices and other electronic gadgets and may not be fully tuned in to what’s happening around them.
  • Avoid distractionsDriver inattention is one of the leading contributing factors to bus accidents in Texas. Don’t text and drive. As always, put down your phone and avoid other distractions, such as chatting with passengers. 

Texas school bus laws are about being concerned for kids’ safety and preventing tragedies. No one wants children to get hurt or put them and others at risk just so they can get to where they’re going. Drivers should practice the utmost caution when approaching a school bus and always follow traffic laws regarding school zones and buses.


  1. 2021-22 Bus Accident Report. Texas Education Agency. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  2. Back-to-School Traffic Safety. Texas Department of Insurance. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  3. Transportation Code Chapter 545. Texas State Legislature. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  4. Transportation Code Chapter 203. Texas State Legislature. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  5. School Bus Safety. Texas Department of Transportation. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  6. School Bus Safety. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  7. Driving Safety and Laws. Texas Department of Transportation. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  8. DPS Issues Reminders for Drivers, Offers Resources Ahead of New School Year. Texas Department of Public Safety. Accessed on November 24, 2023.
  9. U Drive. U Text. U Pay. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Accessed on November 24, 2023.

Morris & Dewett provides this information to the public for general education and interest. The firm does not represent clients in every topic discussed in answers to frequent questions. The information is curated and produced based on questions commonly asked or search terms commonly used. Every effort is made to provide accurate information. Do not make any decision solely based on the information provided, please seek relevant counsel for each topic area. Consult an attorney before making any legal decision, consult a doctor before making any medical decision, and consult a financial advisor before making any fiscal decision. Information provided is not legal advice. If you have any legal needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are pleased to assist you.

Morris & Dewett Will Answer Your Questions and Help You Recover