AUSTIN (KAMR/KCIT) — The Texas Department of Public Safety said it wanted to remind drivers about using caution in school zones and neighborhoods as well as other back-to-school safety tips.

Texas DPS said drivers should know about state laws that involve driving near stopped school buses and not using cell phones when behind the wheel.

“It takes time for drivers to get used to seeing buses on the roads and more kids walking on the sidewalks or crossing streets,” said Steven McCraw, DPS Director. “We’re asking people to take some extra time and be cautious in order to do your part and keep everyone safe as kids across the state head back to school. We’re also encouraging parents to talk to their kids now about how to stay safe and when to report anything that may seem suspicious.

DPS wanted to offer these tips for back-to-school safety:

  • Give students extra room and don’t assume they are paying attention to your vehicle. Students are often distracted by mobile devices, listening to electronic devices, or by other students, and they may not be paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Don’t block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or stop sign.
  • Follow the directions of school crossing guards.
  • Watch for children on bicycles traveling to and from schools.
  • Reduce speed when you spot a school bus and know children may unexpectedly step into the road without checking for oncoming traffic.
  • Be careful around railroad crossings. School buses are legally required to stop at them.
  • Know the laws regarding school buses. According to Texas law, if a 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 road is separated by a physical barrier or an intervening space. If a highway is only divided by a left-turn lane, it is not considered divided, and drivers must stop for school buses.
  • Drivers who illegally pass a school bus face fines of up to $1,250 for the first offense. For people convicted of the offense more than once, the law allows for the person’s driver’s license to be suspended for up to six months. A ticket for this offense cannot be dismissed through defensive driving. Criminal charges are possible if a driver causes someone serious bodily injury.
  • Always obey speed limits and traffic laws in school zones.
  • Remember, texting while driving is illegal in Texas.

DPS also wanted to offer resources and safety tools for students, parents, teachers, and school administrators:

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