With the school year beginning in person for many districts across the state, the Texas Department of Public Safety is reminding the public of steps they can take to keep students and staff members safe. This includes slowing down in school zones, staying off cell phones and being aware at all times while around school buses.
“Going back to school is an exciting time for students, parents and staff, but it is paramount that drivers are more alert when around buses and schools,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “I urge everyone on the road to be proactive and help ensure children arrive to and from school safely each and every day.”
DPS offers the following tips for school safety:
· Give students extra room and don’t assume they are paying attention to traffic. Students are frequently distracted by mobile devices or listening on electronic devices and may not be paying attention to their surroundings.
· Don’t block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or stop sign.
· Follow the directions of school crossing guards.
· Watch for children on bicycles traveling to and from schools.
· Reduce speed when you spot a school bus and know children may unexpectedly step into the road without checking for oncoming traffic.
· Be careful around railroad crossings. School buses are legally required to stop at them.
· Know laws regarding school buses. According to Texas law, if a bus has alternating flashing red signals visible from the front or rear, drivers MUST stop before reaching the bus. Drivers can only proceed if the flashing lights are no longer activated, the driver signals you to proceed or the bus has resumed driving. Approaching drivers do NOT have to stop for a school bus that is operating a visual signal if the road is separated by a physical barrier or an intervening space. If a highway is only divided by a left-turn lane, it is not considered divided and drivers must stop for school buses.
· Drivers who illegally pass a school bus face fines up to $1,250 for the first offense. For people convicted of the offense more than once, the law allows for the person’s driver license to be suspended for up to six months. A ticket for this offense cannot be dismissed through defensive driving. Criminal charges are possible if a driver causes someone serious bodily injury.
· Always obey speed limits and traffic laws in school zones.
· Remember, texting while driving is illegal in Texas.