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Gov. Brown Signs California Bus Safety Law

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation aimed to improve bus safety. The law imposes several new requirements on charter bus operators.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were over 11,000 fatal crashes involving charter buses between 1975 and 2013. Most recently, 13 people died and 31 more were injured in a tragic California bus crash involving a tractor-trailer. The crash is still under investigation.

Sen. Ricardo Lara introduced the bill in response to a 2014 charter bus crash that occurred when a tractor-trailer crossed the center line. Five high school students on a school trip to visit a California college were killed, along with three chaperones and the drivers of the two vehicles.

By making common-sense updates to bus safety practices and laws, we will save lives," Sen. Lara said Tuesday in a statement. “We cannot stop accidents from happening, but we can help reduce tragedy and with the governor's signature, that's what we'll do.”

Under Senate Bill No. 247, the driver of a charter bus that is designed to carry 39 or more passengers must provide the following:

  • Oral and written or video instructions about safety equipment & emergency exits before the trip begins.
  • Emergency lighting fixtures that will light up on impact (for vehicles made after July 2020)

The law requires the Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to adopt standards and criteria for the implementation of these equipment and safety requirements no later than July 1, 2018.

To further improve bus safety, Gov. Brown also signed a law that directs the CHP to develop protocols for working with local governments to increase the frequency of tour bus inspections within their jurisdictions. The law was prompted by a San Francisco sightseeing bus crash that injured nine people.

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