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Gov. Brown signs bus safety bills after series of accidents

Gov. Brown signs bus safety bills after series of accidents

Flames erupt after a fatal 2014 crash near Orland involving a FedEx truck and a bus carrying Los Angeles-area high school students on a visit to a Northern California college. (Jeremy Lockett / Associated Press)

Flames erupt after a fatal 2014 crash near Orland involving a FedEx truck and a bus carrying Los Angeles-area high school students on a visit to a Northern California college. (Jeremy Lockett / Associated Press)

Two years after a charter bus crash killed 10 people, including five Los Angeles-area high school students, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation that will improve safety regulations for such large vehicles.

Brown signed a bill that requires charter buses designed to carry 39 or more passengers and made after July 1, 2020. to be equipped with emergency lighting that would be automatically activated in the event of a collision.

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For the record

2:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of students killed in a 2014 bus crash in Orland as eight. Five students died, along with three chaperons and the two drivers.

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The measure also requires bus drivers to provide written or video instructions to all passengers on how to use the vehicle’s safety equipment and emergency exits prior to any trip.

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the bill in response to a 2014 accident in which a tractor trailer drifted across the median of Interstate 5 near Orland and struck a charter bus carrying students on a trip to visit a Northern California college. Five students, three chaperons and the two drivers died.

By making common-sense updates to bus safety practices and laws, we will save lives,” 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.”

Brown signed a separate bus safety bill in response to an accident last November in which 19 people were injured when a City Sightseeing bus crashed into construction scaffolding in San Francisco’s Union Square.

That law by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) requires the California Highway Patrol to develop protocols for working with cities and counties to increase the number of tour bus inspections within their jurisdictions.

Yet another tragedy is behind a third bill signed Tuesday by Brown. Last year, a 19-year-old special needs student died in Whittier after being left in a sweltering school bus parked with its windows closed at the end of the driver’s route.

Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) drafted the measure that requires school buses, youth buses and child care motor vehicles to be equipped by the 2018-19 school year with alert systems that will require drivers to manually disarm or scan an alarm at the rear of the bus before exiting the bus.

The new law also requires school districts to improve the training of drivers to avoid students being left on buses alone and requires notification of the Department of Motor Vehicles about some incidents involving students being left behind.

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