School zone flashers are being activated this week throughout the nine-county Lufkin District in preparation for a new school year. TxDOT wants to remind the public of the law regarding driving through a school zone and near school buses and offer safety tips for students.
Motorists should stay alert and be prepared to slow down to the posted speed limit when school lights are activated in a school zone. Be prepared to stop during peak travel hours as directed by a school crossing guard or state, city, county or school law enforcement before and after school hours. Parents are encouraged to discuss safety with students who walk or ride a bicycle to school.
“We encourage parents to have a conversation with their students about school zones and bus safety before the school year begins,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “Student and motorists’ safety are of top priority in and near a school zone, and that safety many times depends on the alertness of a driver.”
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.
Safety tips for students who walk or ride a bicycle to school include:
- Always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks. Look left, right, and then left again before proceeding.
- Look for oncoming traffic when stepping from a bus.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
- Always obey crossing guards.
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
- If riding a bicycle, only cross at designated crossings and obey all traffic laws.
- Use hand signals when turning.
For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or (936) 633-4395.