Back-to-School safety tips for drivers

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HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — As the summer of 2017 comes to an end and our children prepare to go back to school, there are some important things you need to remember to keep our kids safe this school year.

“This time of the year brings back special memories of when my two kids, Dylan and Maci, would venture out to school every morning,” Constable Mark Herman said.  “Both have now graduated from Texas A&M,  but the memories are still there and I really miss those days. Every time I see the children in our communities getting into the school routine, it all comes full circle for me as a parent and as the leader of a law enforcement agency.”

The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s office has already reached out to the chiefs of school districts within Precinct 4. Deputy constables will be aiding our school district police in providing traffic enforcement and a police presence in and around these schools.

The constable’s office would like to share some suggestions to all the drivers out there to not only better prepare you as drivers, but hopefully make our roadways safer for our children this school year.

Drivers travel with caution

All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially our children. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians with your vehicle.

Drivers should not block crosswalks when stopped at a red light. Blocking a crosswalk forces our children to walk around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.

In a school zone when the warning flashers are blinking, you must stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.

Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer, or designated crossing guard.

Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds and parks.

Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.

School Buses

It is against State Law to pass a school bus with the red flashing lights on, loading or unloading children. ( If a roadway is divided, the opposite direction roadway may proceed with caution ) Traffic behind the school bus traveling in the same direction MUST stop.

School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children.

The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in danger of being hit. Stop your vehicle far enough from the bus to allow children necessary space to safely enter or exit the bus.

Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.

Never pass a stopped school bus on the right that is loading or unloading. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.

Lastly, please remember not to talk on cell phones in a school zone, it is illegal.

“I hope some of these suggestions will better enable you as a driver, and keep our children safe,” Herman said.

Herman’s office will stride to ensure a safe and prosperous school year for our children, deputies said.