Pennsylvania School Bus Law Changes in 2024
There are several new laws taking effect in Pennsylvania in 2024, including an update to the laws for stopping for a school bus. The new law expands the use of automated stopping arm systems to capture license plate information for offenders, changes the distance at which you must stop, and changes the penalties for offenses.
These laws are in place to protect students and bus drivers, as well as other drivers on the road. If you were in an accident, or your student was in an accident, as a result of failure to stop for a school bus, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Pennsylvania’s New School Bus Law
The new law increases the stopping distance from ten feet to 15 feet. This means you now must stop 15 feet behind the bus when their stopping arm is out or lights are flashing. The law also extends automated enforcement of the law, and changes the penalties if you are issued a ticket as a result of automated enforcement.
The majority of the new law lays out rules for how these automated enforcement systems can be obtained, installed, maintained, and used to issue tickets. Essentially, these systems capture license plate information for offenders, from which tickets can be issued. These systems have been in limited use since 2020, but the new law expands their use.
What Is the Penalty for Failure to Stop for a School Bus?
The penalty for failure to stop for a school bus is a $300 fine. This is true whether you are stopped by a police officer or you are issued a ticket using automated enforcement. You now have 90 days to pay the ticket if it is issued by automated enforcement. If you fail to pay, it will go to collections.
Previously you had 30 days to pay a fine regardless of whether it was issued by police or automated enforcement, and failure to pay the fine resulted in a warrant and license suspension. This is still the case if you are issued a ticket by law enforcement, but not by automated enforcement.
Are There Other Consequences for Failure to Stop for School Bus?
If you are issued a traffic ticket, it can affect your car insurance rates and accrue points on your license. However, this is no longer the case if you are issued a ticket by automated enforcement. The new law specifically prohibits automated enforcement tickets from having these consequences.
The following consequences will not happen if you are issued a ticket by automated enforcement:
- No criminal conviction
- Not made part of the driving record
- Not subject to merit rating for insurance
- No surcharge points in the provision of motor vehicle insurance
Keep in mind that this is only true of citations issued by automated enforcement. The same rules apply to a ticket issued by law enforcement as for any other traffic violation.
Can I Fight Automated Enforcement for Failure to Stop for a School Bus?
You can fight a failure to stop for school bus ticket issued by automated enforcement. There is a rebuttable presumption that the owner of the vehicle was driving. Proving that you were not driving at the time is the only acceptable defense to the ticket.
According to the law, acceptable defenses for automated enforcement of failure to stop for a school bus are:
- The person named on the citation was not driving at the time
- The vehicle was stolen before the offense
- The person named on the citation was no longer the owner of the vehicle at the time of the offense
- The side stop signal arm enforcement system being used was not in compliance.
To fight a ticket issued by automated enforcement, follow the instructions on the notice to request a hearing. The hearing is informal and does not follow the rules of evidence to allow offenders to represent themselves.
How Pennsylvania’s New School Bus Law Protects Children
While it is important to know the law so that you can follow it, the most important thing to know about this law is that it is designed to protect children. School bus accidents are more common than you might think, and pedestrian accidents occur when side stop arms are not obeyed.
Unfortunately, the issuing of citations doesn’t always prevent accidents. It may be some time before we see the true benefits of the new law. In the meantime, it is important to teach your children to be aware of their surroundings even when the stopping arm on the school bus is out.
Pennsylvania’s School Bus Accident Attorney
If you or your child are injured in a school bus accident, it is important to act quickly. Seek medical treatment first, then contact an experienced attorney. School bus accidents can be complex, and it is important to have a lawyer experienced in school bus and traffic law to reconstruct the accident and find fault.
Freeburn Law is dedicated to informing the public of the laws of the state and how they impact personal injury cases. We have years of experience handling school bus accidents. If you or a loved one were injured in a school bus accident, contact us today at (717) 777-7777 for a free consultation.