HOUSTON (CW39) As millions of Texas children return to school this year, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) asks motorists and parents to exercise caution to prevent traffic crashes and injuries in and around school zones and bus stops.
Last year, 784 traffic crashes occurred in Texas school zones, resulting in one death and 12 serious injuries. The most common causes for these crashes were driver inattention, failure to control speed and failure to yield the right of way at a stop sign or when turning left.
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In addition, five people were killed and 76 were seriously injured last year in 2,453 traffic crashes involving school buses in our state. Speed and driver inattention also were the top contributing factors in those crashes.
TxDOT urges drivers to slow down, pay attention and follow all traffic laws in school zones and when approaching school buses. Many schools are opening later than usual this fall because of the pandemic. It’s important that motorists be aware of changing traffic patterns around schools to keep children safe and to avoid costly fines and tickets.
Tips for Drivers Sharing the Road with School Buses
- Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
- Stop for flashing red lights or a stop sign on a school bus, regardless of which direction you’re headed. Continue your trip once the bus has moved, the flashing lights stop flashing or the bus driver signals it’s okay to pass.
- Always remain alert for children around buses and remember they may not always look for vehicles before crossing the street.
- Violations can lead to a fine of up to $1,250 for a first offense.
Tips for Driving in School Zones
- Be aware that traffic patterns around schools may have changed since the last school year.
- Stay alert and put your phone away. Using a handheld electronic device while driving in an active school zone is against the law.
- Always obey school zone speed limit signs. Remember, traffic fines increase in school zones.
- Drop off and pick up your children in your school’s designated areas, not the middle of the street.
- Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.
- Watch for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles.
Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School
- Always walk on sidewalks. If there’s not a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
- Cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks. Look left, right and left again before proceeding.
- Always obey crossing guards.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume a driver sees you.
- Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked vehicles.
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
- Don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
- Follow all traffic rules, signs and signals.
“Be Safe. Drive Smart.” is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel such as wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.