AUSTIN, TEXAS – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) wants to remind drivers to continue to be cautious and stay alert in school zones, particularly this school year with students attending classes on varying schedules. Drivers should slow down in school zones, follow traffic safety laws and stay alert. Additionally, all Texans should exercise caution around school buses and are required to stop.
“This school year is particularly unique, and with schools on different learning schedules, I urge all Texans to be on heightened alert and pay particular attention in-and-around school zones,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “By obeying traffic laws and driving responsibly, every Texan can do their part to ensure our roadways are safe and children make it to school safely.”
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 on their mobile devices or listening to 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.
· Texting while driving is illegal in Texas. Be mindful of this law whenever driving, and especially around school zones.
· Follow the direction of school crossing guards.
· Watch for children on bicycles traveling to-and-from schools, and be extra vigilant.
· Always obey speed limits and traffic laws in school zones.
· Reduce speed when you spot a school bus and know children may unexpectedly step into the roadway without checking for oncoming traffic.
· Be careful around railroad crossings. School buses are legally required to stop at them.
· Know your school bus laws. 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 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 this 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.