PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer has approved legislation that clarifies for school bus drivers when and where they must activate their bus’ flashing lights and stop arm while on the road.
Previously, officials said the law was not clear in terms of whether bus drivers must engage the warning lights and stop arm on private roads and driveways.
House Bill (HB) 2170 revises the current law to state that, “When transporting schoolchildren to or from school or home, the operator of the school bus shall … display the [stop-arm] signal and alternately flashing lights if passengers are being received or discharged while the school bus is stopped on the roadway or a private road or driveway.”
Yvonne Hunter, an attorney with the law firm Fennemore Craig, said, “We believe that HB 2170 will clarify, for training and operation purposes, that school bus drivers must engage the school bus warning lights and stop arm while loading or unloading students when transporting passengers to and from home and school. By changing the statute, this will be a first step toward implementing regulations and training for school bus drivers.”
Hunter is representing, pro bono, the family of Elizabeth Bates. Bates was killed exiting a school bus close to her house on a private road, in a rural part of Arizona where there is little distinction between public and private roads.
According to Hunter, the school bus driver did not engage the lights or stop arm.
Dean Humphrey, transportation director for Pendergast Elementary School District in West Phoenix, said, “This amendment provides clear direction for the school bus driver as to when they must use the stop signal on the bus.”
Antonio Mlynek, transportation supervisor for special education at Washington Elementary School District #6 in Phoenix, added, “I am happy to see HB 2170 signed into law by Gov. Brewer. The law is clear and makes sense. It’s the right thing to do.”
Officials said HB 2170 will become law 90 days after the current legislative session ends.