Students are about to begin a new school year and TxDOT is calling on everyone to be extra cautious in school zones and around school buses to help keep them safe.
Drivers are reminded to stay alert in school zones. They are chaotic before and after the bell rings each day and traffic congestion increases. Children might dash in and out of traffic, and unfortunately, crashes can and do happen. In the nine-county Lufkin District in 2022, there were 6 traffic crashes in school zones, with no serious injuries. Across the state, there were 746 traffic crashes in school zones, resulting in 23 serious injuries. The most common causes were driver inattention, speeding and failure to yield the right of way.
Driving near a school bus also requires close attention on the driver’s part. Across the state, there were seven people killed and 51 seriously injured last year in the 2,305 crashes involving a school bus. Driver inattention and speed were also the top factors in those crashes.
“We all experience increased traffic in the mornings and afternoons when school begins each year,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “We urge drivers to reduce speed and stay alert in a school zone and near a school bus. Excited children don’t think about moving vehicles near the school or when they are exiting a school bus.”
TxDOT urges drivers to slow down, pay attention and follow all traffic laws to keep children safe and avoid costly fines and tickets as parents, teachers and students prepare for a new school year. Be aware of these safety tips:
Tips for Driving in School Zones
- Traffic patterns around schools may have changed since last school year due to construction or new facilities.
- Stay alert and put your phone away. Using a handheld electronic device while driving in an active school zone is against the law.
- Stop and yield for people in crosswalks.
- 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 Drivers Sharing the Road with School Buses
- Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
- Always stay 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 headed. 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 a first offense.
Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School
- Use sidewalks. If there’s not a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street, facing traffic.
- Cross the street only 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 to help end the streak of daily deaths. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or call (936) 633-4395.