California School Bus Alarm Bill Signed into Law
Monday, October 31, 2016By Richard Alexander
Parents should be able to trust school districts to take care of their children. When students are at school and on school busses, parents cannot watch over them. This gives both drivers and school districts a unique responsibility to protect our children. When they fail to meet this responsibility, they should be held accountable, and this includes a failure to protect kids being transported by bus to and from school.
The premature death of a Whittier teen in 2015 has culminated in a new law designed to protect children on California school busses. The law, named after teen Paul Lee, will force school bus drivers to conduct walk-throughs before shutting bus engines down. It passed unanimously and was signed by Governor Brown.
Lee suffered from severe autism. He was left on a bus that was turned off in the summer of 2015 and heartbreakingly died of extreme heat exposure when the driver abandoned him on the bus. Although nothing can bring Lee back, his mother is thankful that the family’s situation has brought awareness of the danger, crediting her son with improved safety for others through passage of the law: “It was like a big hug from heaven. So I’m happy . . . it can protect the children in a safer way. My son did a good job—amazing. I’m so happy with that.”
The Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law will sound an alarm in the back of the bus when the engine is turned off. To disable the alarm, the school bus driver must walk to the back of the bus before turning it off.
The law also requires school bus drivers to be trained on child safety check procedures when they renew their safety certificates. The California Highway Patrol will draft rules to support the alarm requirements. School districts will have eight months after the rules are effective to implement the alarm system.
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