PHOENIX — A bill is making its way through the Arizona Legislature that would require motorists to stop for school buses on private roads when they have their stop arm extended and their lights flashing for children to board or disembark.
Under current law, motorists are only required to stop for school buses when they’re on public roadways and students are entering or exiting. House Bill 2170 would amend the law for it to apply to private roads and driveways as well.
The law would not, however, apply to a bus that is stopped in a parking lot.
In a hearing on the bill last Thursday, Yvonne Hunter, an attorney with the law firm Fennemore Craig, outlined its specifications to Rep. Karen Fann, who was asked to sponsor the bill.
Hunter told Fann that current Arizona law is “somewhat vague in terms of identifying the circumstances under which a school bus, when loading and unloading students, is supposed to engage stop lights and a stop arm or a stop sign. Some of the confusion is when that bus is on a private road or a public road. When we’re talking about rural parts of the state, when private roads and public roads aren’t always identified, that’s an issue.”
Hunter went on to say that the purpose of the legislation is to help “add clarity so that all bus drivers be trained as a matter of practice and routine that when they’re on a roadway, be it public or private, when they’re loading or unloading passengers, they turn on the lights and put out the stop arm.”
Fann asked Hunter if there have been any incidents in Arizona where children have been hurt or killed because a law requiring motorists to stop for buses on private roads isn’t in place.
“Unfortunately, we do have that in Arizona’s history,” Hunter said.
(Cronkite News Service reports that Hunter is representing the family of Elizabeth Bates, who was struck by a truck while exiting a school bus inside a mobile home park in 2008.)
Hunter told Fann that another goal of the legislation is to make motorists aware that “some of our most vulnerable population is about to be on the street, and hopefully those … drivers will take the appropriate cautions.”
The House Transportation Committee, for which Fann is the vice chairman, approved the bill last Thursday.
Other news related to stop-arm running prevention:
• Iowa study probes stop-arm safety measures