AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Texas Department of Transportation is offering tips to keep children safe in school zones as the start of the school year nears.
TxDOT urges drivers to slow down, stay alert, and follow all traffic laws to keep children safe and avoid fines and tickets. Other tips include:
- Be aware that traffic patterns around schools may have changed since the last school year, and expect more vehicles on the road as many students will be returning for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
- Stay alert and put your phone away. Using a handheld electronic device while driving in an active school zone is against the law.
- 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 buses:
- Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
- Always remain 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 to school or biking to school:
- Always use sidewalks. If there’s not a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
- Cross the street 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.
TxDOT said despite lower traffic levels around Texas schools due to the pandemic, there were still hundreds of crashes in school zones in 2020.
According to TxDOT, there were 11 people seriously injured in school zone crashes in 2020, along with 1,214 crashes involving school buses across the state.