Don't pass stopped school buses
Special to the Courier
As part of National School Bus Safety Week - Monday, Oct. 2, through Friday, Oct. 25, law enforcement administrators with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) urged drivers to obey state law by not passing any school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal - either flashing red lights or a stop sign. In addition, Texas Highway Patrol troopers will step up their efforts to catch those drivers who break the law.
"The moment when students are entering or exiting the bus is one of the most dangerous times of a student's trip. Drivers who pass a stopped school bus create a potentially deadly situation," said DPS Director Steven McCraw. "The safety of Texas children is paramount and DPS will not tolerate those who break the law and put our children at risk."
During National School Bus Safety Week, troopers in many areas across the state will be riding on or following school buses to catch motorists who disregard the law. Troopers will also be patrolling areas where school buses pick up and drop off students, looking for motorists violating the school bus law. Drivers who violate the law could face fines as much as $1,250, which was increased in September by new legislation.
In 2012, Texas Highway Patrol troopers issued 449 tickets for passing a stopped school bus. Last year, 840 crashes in Texas involved school buses, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, which tracks traffic crashes. According to the Texas Education Agency, more than 40,000 school buses transport 1.5 million Texas children every school day.
A Texas statute requires a driver - traveling in either direction - to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal. The driver may not proceed until one of the following occurs:
• the school bus resumes motion
• the operator is signaled by the bus driver to proceed or
• the visual signal is no longer activated.
If a road is divided only by a left-turning lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses with alternating red flashing lights activated. However, if the lanes are separated by an intervening space or physical barrier, only motorists going in the same direction as the bus are required to stop. School buses, by law, must stop at all railroad crossings.