The following is a press release issued by Rhonda Oaks, Public Information Officer, Texas Department of Transportation:
Schools are preparing to begin the new school year throughout the nine-county Lufkin District and TxDOT wants to remind the public of the law regarding driving through a school zone and near school buses.
Motorists should stay alert to flashing lights in school zones and be prepared to slow down to the posted speed limit when lights are activated. Be prepared to stop during peak travel hours as traffic is directed before and after school hours.
“We encourage parents to have a conversation with their students about school zones and bus safety before school begins,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “The first day of school throughout our nine counties varies this year over about a two-week period, so we are hoping that motorists will be ready and prepared to enter a school zone or approach a school bus. We want everyone to stay alert so everyone stays safe.”
Laws and safety tips to remember for driving through school zones include:
- Cell phone use is banned in active school zones. Anyone using a cell phone could face a fine of up to $200.
- Obey school zone speed limits. Traffic fines double in school zones.
- Student delivery and pick-up should only be done in the school’s designated areas, not in or near the street.
- Be alert to students gathering at bus stops.
- Be alert for students who might dart across the street or between vehicles.
Laws and safety tips for traveling near a school bus include:
- A driver traveling in either direction must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal. The driver may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion; the bus driver signals to proceed; or the visual signals are no longer activated.
- If a road is divided only by a left-turn lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses while lights are activated. If the travel lanes are separated by an intervening median or physical barrier, only motorists traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.
- Violators could face up to a $1,000 fine.
Parents of students who walk or bike to school should also be aware of safe practices and discuss them with their students before school begins. Safety tips for students include:
- Always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks. Look left, right, and then left again before proceeding.
- Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked cars.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
- Always obey crossing guards.
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or (936) 633-4395.