As we begin a new school year, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding all Texans to slow down in school zones, be careful around school buses, follow all traffic laws, and stay alert around schools and the surrounding areas where children may be walking and playing. The start of the school year also generates an increase in overall traffic in many areas, and drivers are urged to take extra precautions.
“Going back to school brings new opportunities for students, and it also requires additional awareness and caution by drivers to ensure the safety of our students,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Drivers are urged to be particularly alert around schools and in school zones, and to follow all traffic laws to help protect our kids. DPS won’t tolerate reckless driving that puts children in harm’s way.”
The moments when students are entering or exiting a school bus can be one of the most dangerous times during a child’s trip to and from school. Accordingly, DPS reminds drivers to reduce speed and be aware that children may unexpectedly step into a roadway without checking for oncoming traffic.
According to state law, if a school 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 roadway is separated by a physical barrier or an intervening space. (If a highway is divided only by a left-turning lane, the roadways are not considered separated, and drivers must stop for school buses.)
As a reminder, school buses are legally required to stop at all railroad crossings.
Drivers who illegally pass school buses face fines up to $1,250 for the first offense. For individuals convicted of this offense more than once, the law allows the individual’s driver license to be suspended for up to six months. (A ticket for illegally passing a school bus cannot be dismissed through defensive driving.) Additionally, this offense could potentially include criminal charges if they cause serious bodily injury to another.