For the 13.3 million transportation workers and other motorists across the United States, the start of a new school year brings a need for extra caution. Drivers need to pay special attention to the millions of children and teens crossing the streets, waiting at bus stops, and entering and exiting buses. Each year in Texas, hundreds of vehicle crashes occur in school zones resulting in severe injuries and death. Accidents like these are preventable when drivers follow school bus and school zone laws and use these safe driving tips.
1 Never pass a school bus when red lights are flashing.
Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign mean a school bus is stopped to let students on or off. Drivers behind or in front of a school bus must stop even if the road is divided (unless there is a physical barrier separating the lanes). Passing a school bus with red flashing lights in Texas is illegal. Violators can receive up to a $1,250 fine, driver’s license suspension, and jail time.
2 Slow down and stay alert.Obey speed limit signs. Look for students walking in the street or riding bicycles, especially in neighborhoods without sidewalks. Students on bikes are often inexperienced. Give them plenty of room.
3 Reverse with care.
Back up slowly and look for pedestrians in driveways, sidewalks, and around vehicles. Use all mirrors and a backup camera if the vehicle has one.
4 Look for crosswalks and prepare to stop.
According to the American Automobile Association, more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Be alert at intersections and crosswalks. Students often dart into crosswalks, streets, and between vehicles, especially when trying to catch a bus. Always come to a complete stop.
5 Avoid distractions.
Using handheld devices while driving in Texas is illegal and can result in a $200 fine. Research shows that when drivers take their eyes off the road for only two seconds, it doubles their chances of crashing.
For more information on school bus and school zone driving safety, download DWC Workplace Safety’s Back-to-School Safety publication or call 1-800-252-7031, option 2.