A district shall meet or exceed the safety standards for school buses established by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), with the advice of TEA. If a district fails or refuses to meet these standards, it shall be ineligible to receive its transportation allotment until the first anniversary of the date the district begins compliance. Education Code 34.002; Transp. Code 547.102; 37 TAC 14.51–.52
A district may not require or allow a child to stand on a moving bus or passenger van. Education Code 34.004
An operator of a school bus, while operating the bus, shall prohibit a passenger from:
- Standing in the bus; or
- On the floor of the bus, or
- In any location on the bus that is not designed as a seat.
Transp. Code 545.426
Required on Buses
A bus, including a school bus, a school activity bus, multifunction school activity bus, or school-chartered bus, operated by or contracted for use by a district for the transportation of schoolchildren shall be equipped with a three-point seat belt for each passenger, including the operator. This requirement does not apply to:
- A bus purchased by a school district that is a model year 2017 or earlier; or
- A bus purchased by a school district that is a model year 2018 or later if the board:
- Determines that the district's budget does not permit the district to purchase a bus that is equipped with the required seat belts; and
- Votes to approve that determination in a public meeting.
Transp. Code 547.701(e)
A district shall require a student riding a bus operated by or contracted for operation by the district to wear a seat belt if the bus is equipped with seat belts for all passengers on the bus. A school district may implement a disciplinary policy to enforce the use of seat belts by students. Education Code 34.013
A board shall consider any offer made by a person to donate three-point seat belts or money for the purchase of three-point seat belts for a district's school buses. A board may accept or decline the offer after adequate consideration.
A board may acknowledge a person who donates three-point seat belts or money for the purchase of three-point seat belts for a school bus by displaying a small, discreet sign on the side or back of the bus recognizing the person who made the donation. The sign may not serve as an advertisement for the person who made the donation.
Education Code 34.014
School Bus Emergency Evacuation Training
Pursuant to the safety standards established by DPS under Education Code 34.002, each school district may conduct a training session for students and teachers concerning procedures for evacuating a school bus during an emergency. A district that chooses to conduct a training session is encouraged to conduct the school bus emergency evacuation training session in the fall of the school year. "Fall" is defined as July 1 to December 31. The district is also encouraged to structure the training session so that the session applies to school bus passengers, a portion of the session occurs on a school bus, and the session lasts for at least one hour.
The training must be based on the recommendations of the most recent edition of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures, as adopted by the National Congress on School Transportation, or a similar school transportation safety manual.
Immediately before each field trip involving transportation by school bus, a district is encouraged to review school bus emergency evacuation procedures with the school bus passengers, including a demonstration of the school bus emergency exits and the safe manner to exit.
Not later than the 30th day after the date that a school district completes a training session, the district shall provide DPS with a record certifying the district's completion of the training.
Note: The Reporting of School Bus Evacuation Training form is available at the DPS website.
Education Code 34.0021; 37 TAC 14.54
Wireless Communication Devices
An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. Transp. Code 545.4251(b)
An operator may not use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle within a school crossing zone or on the property of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school served by a school crossing zone, during the time a reduced speed limit is in effect for the school crossing zone, unless:
- The vehicle is stopped; or
- The wireless communication device is used with a hands-free device.
An operator may not use a wireless communication device while operating a passenger bus with a minor passenger on the bus unless the passenger bus is stopped.
Transp. Code 545.425(c), .4252
"Hands-free device" means speakerphone capability, a telephone attachment, or another function or other piece of equipment, regardless of whether permanently installed in or on a wireless communication device or in a motor vehicle, that allows use of the wireless communication device without use of either of the operator's hands, except to activate or deactivate a function of the wireless communication device or hands-free device. The term includes voice-operated technology and a push-to-talk function. Transp. Code 545.425(a)(1)
"Electronic message" means data that is read from or entered into a wireless communication device for the purpose of communicating with another person. Transp. Code 545.4251(a)(1)
Disruption of Transportation
Any person other than a primary or secondary grade student who intentionally disrupts, prevents, or interferes with the lawful transportation of students to and from school on a vehicle owned or operated by a district or to or from activities sponsored by a school on a vehicle owned and/or operated by a district shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. It is an exception to the application of the offense that, at the time the person engaged in the prohibited conduct, the person was younger than 12 years of age. Education Code 37.126
Exhibition of Firearm
A person commits a third degree felony if, in a manner intended to cause alarm or personal injury to another person or to damage school property, the person intentionally:
- Exhibits or uses a firearm on a school bus being used to transport children to and from school-sponsored activities; or
- Threatens to exhibit or use a firearm on a bus as described above and was in possession of or had immediate access to the firearm.
A person commits a Class A misdemeanor if the person threatens to exhibit or use a firearm on a bus as described above.
Education Code 37.125
Notice to DPS
A district shall provide DPS written notification of any accident directly or indirectly involving a school bus operated by or for the district that bears advertising or another paid announcement. 37 TAC 14.65(a)(2)
Notice must be received not more than five days from the date of the accident and shall include the following:
- The name and address of the owner of the school bus;
- The name and driver's license number of the school bus operator;
- The date of the accident;
- The city or county where the accident occurred; and
- The investigating police agency.
37 TAC 14.65(c)
Notices to DPS may be delivered by facsimile, electronic mail, or mailed to School Bus Transportation, Texas Department of Public Safety, P.O. Box 4087, Austin, TX 78773-0525. 37 TAC 14.65(d)
Notice to TEA
A district shall report annually to TEA the number of accidents in which its buses were involved in the past year in a manner prescribed by the commissioner. A district shall file the annual report to TEA only in the period beginning July 1 and ending July 31 and shall include the following information in the report:
- The total number of bus accidents;
- The date each accident occurred;
- The type of bus, as specified in 19 Administrative Code 61.1028(a), involved in each accident;
- Whether the bus involved in each accident was equipped with seat belts and, if so, the type of seat belts;
- The number of students and adults involved in each accident;
- The number and types of injuries that were sustained by the bus passengers in each accident; and
- Whether the injured passengers in each accident were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident and, if so, the type of seat belts.
A school district shall report a bus accident involving a school bus, a multifunction school activity bus, a school activity bus, or a motor bus if:
- The bus is owned, leased, contracted, or chartered by a school district and was transporting school district personnel, students, or a combination of personnel and students; or
- The bus was driven by a school district employee or by an employee of the school district's bus contractor with no passengers on board and the accident involved a collision with a pedestrian.
A school district shall not report a bus accident involving a school bus, a multifunction school activity bus, a school activity bus, or a motor bus if:
- The bus was driven by a school district employee or by an employee of the school district's bus contractor, the accident occurred when no passenger other than the school district's driver or bus contractor's driver was on board the bus, and the accident did not involve a collision with a pedestrian; or
- The accident involved a bus chartered by a school district for a school activity trip and no school district personnel or students were on board the bus at the time of the accident.
A school district shall not report an accident that occurred in a vehicle that is owned, contracted, or chartered by a school district and is not a school bus, a multifunction school activity bus, a school activity bus, or a motor bus.
Education Code 34.015(b); 19 TAC 61.1028(b)