Texas Bus Safety Guidelines

In the state of Texas there are 77 public transportation systems providing services to citizens in large urban areas, the suburbs and rural regions as well. In addition to that there are upwards of 120 services providing transportation to the disabled and elderly. These services are governed and regulated by the Texas Department Of Transportation (D.O.T) . While public transportation is the practical and affordable option for many commuters, there are also many private commercial entities offering transportation services. The Railroad Commission of Texas has also overseen the regulation of motor transportation since 1931, ensuring that the systems in operation meet industries and communities needs and most importantly, in a safe manner. Whether a bus is ran by a city or private company, all commercial vehicles are required to comply with rules established by the Texas Department Of Public Safety.

Any vehicle with a gross weight exceeding 26,001 lbs requires the driver of the bus to have a Class B license. Vehicles under 26,000 lbs require a class A license and any vehicle designed to accommodate 16 to 23 people, driver included requires a Class C license Bus Drivers must meet a set of requirements set in 49 CFR, Part 391. Their are over a dozen criteria the driver must meet. Firstly, they must be 21 years of age and be fluent in English. The rest of the conditions concern the health of the driver, both mental and physical. If the driver has any impairment, whether sensorial, physical or psychiatric that would effect their ability to operate a vehicle, they are unfit to drive a bus. Drivers must also be familiar with the required equipment needed for bus operation which includes but is not limited to hydraulic brakes, parking breaks, headlamps, tail lamps, liability insurance , safety belts, horn, fire extinguisher (in some cases) , clearance lamps, turning signals, rear-view mirror , inspection certificate, etc. Drivers are required to inspect vehicles in accordance with State & Federal Laws to ensure that the there are no malfunctions that could result in an accident or breakdown. In order to drive a vehicle, driver must pass a commercial driver license test to determine if a bus is in operable condition. This requires the driver to check all fluids required for the drive train. All hardware and instruments on the suspension, steering, brakes, wheels, tires must be working. All air brake vehicles built after 03/01/ 1998 and Buses weighing more than 10,000 lbs or built after 03/01/1999 must gave anti lock braking systems. All the railing, flooring, signaling devices, emergency exit handles and seating must be in safe working condition.

In addition to the drivers suitability and the physical condition of the bus. There are many procedures in place that are set to ensure the drivers operate the bus safely on a day to day basis. Some of these procedures are applicable towards standard circumstances and others towards specific non-routine instances such as emergencies, accidents, etc. Since Commercial Vehicles are much larger than passenger vehicles, the potential to cause severe damage in the event of an accident is much greater. Additionally, Commercial vehicles ergonomics and capabilities are limited compared to passenger vehicles. In general, they are harder to maneuver and this requires the driver to be extremely responsible by adhering to guidelines set forth by the D.O.T. Drivers must consider the following distance and turning radius for their specific vehicle, which varies depending on size (length and weight). The following are just a few other rules and guidelines related to the operation of buses.

  • Being able to see hazards in the vehicles path, which could include other drivers not obeying laws.
  • Taking the right turning lane to avoid swinging out and colliding into an adjacent vehicle.
  • Being aware of overhead space and clearance.

Bus Drivers must follow rules regarding the treatment of passengers. There are set procedures for loading, off-boarding, dealing with unruly passengers and health related injuries or sickness on the bus. A number of hazardous materials are prohibited from being brought on the bus as well. Drivers should also know when to stop, let riders off, etc. It is the drivers responsibility to communicate to the passengers where they are stopped, why they are stopped, when the next departure is and what bus they are riding. Drivers should know what materials are prohibited on the bus and also what to do when they approach train tracks, drawbridges, accidents , emergency service vehicles (police and firetrucks). Supervision of passengers is essential and especially so when transporting students for a school district. There are narrowly tailored guidelines applicable specifically to school buses dealing with mirror placement, student safety, blind spots, checking the bus after a ride for sleeping children or lost articles and also making sure all the kids are not in the street when the driver pulls off.

In conclusion, the bus safety rules and guidelines in the state of Texas are extensive and address:

  • The competence of the operator
  • The condition of the vehicle and it’s components
  • The procedures followed for:
    • Loading
    • Off-Loading
    • Boarding
    • Turning
    • Breaking
    • Communicating with passengers and other drivers
    • Handling emergencies (ie: Stuck on a train track, Evacuate Immediately!)
    • Enforcing bus rules such as prohibited materials

If you or a loved one has been injured (or killed) in a bus related accident due to negligence of the bus driver or company, Hurt In Houston can help you secure the compensation your are entitled to. It is essential to act promptly so a proper investigation can take place in a timely manner.Contact us today for a free case evaluation.