HOUSTON (CW39) –  Although traffic levels around schools remain low due the pandemic, and slower during the holidays, there are still hundreds of crashes in school zones.  

Last year, there were 11 people seriously injured in school zone crashes, along with 1,214 crashes involving school buses across the state.  

That’s why TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign continues to urge drivers to watch for the kiddos as they walk and bike to school this year and even during the holidays.

Here are tips TxDOT say you should use while driving in a school zone:

  • Be aware of traffic patterns around schools! Some may have changed since the last school year. Also expect more vehicles on the road as many students will be returning for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
  • Stay alert and put your phone away! It’s against the law to use a handheld electronic device while driving in an active school zone.
  • Obey school zone speed limit signs and remember that traffic fines increase in school zones.
  • ONLY drop off and pick up your children in your school’s designated areas and not the middle of the street.
  • Keep an eye on children at bus stops.
  • Look out for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles.

The following are tips TxDOT says drivers should take while sharing the road with school buses:

  • Follow at a safe distance and keep in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
  • Remain alert for children around buses and remember that they may not always look for vehicles before crossing the street.
  • Stop for flashing red lights or a stop sign on a school bus, regardless of which direction you’re going.  You can continue your trip once the bus has moved, the flashing lights stop flashing or the bus driver signals it’s okay to pass.
  • Violations can lead to a fine of up to $1,250 for the first offense.

Finally, here are tips for children walking or biking to school:

  • Always use sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
  • Cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks and always look left, right and left again before proceeding.
  • Obey crossing guards.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and never assume a driver sees you.
  • When stepping off a bus or from behind parked vehicles look for traffic.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Don’t be distracted by electronic devices
  • Always follow all traffic rules, signs and signals.

The “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” Campaign is a key part of the #EndTheStreakTX, which encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel.  The social media effort asks Texans to commit to driving safely to end the streak of daily deaths in the state.  The last deathless day on a Texas road was Nov. 7, 2000