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2014-08-28

Watch for children as new school year starts

Special to the Courier

As the academic year begins, law enforcement administrators with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) remind motorists to watch out for children walking to and from school or waiting for school buses. Drivers must also follow all traffic laws related to school buses and school zones.
"With children heading back to school, drivers can help keep Texas students safe by obeying all speed limits - especially in posted school zones - and stopping for school buses," said DPS Director Steven McCraw. "Individuals who illegally pass stopped school buses endanger our children. DPS officers will not tolerate drivers who break the law and put others in harm's way."
One of the most dangerous times of a student's trip on a school bus is when they are entering or exiting the bus. Drivers are urged to slow down and pay attention in school zones since children may step into a roadway without checking for oncoming traffic.
State law requires that approaching drivers stop when a bus is stopped and operating a visual signal - either red flashing lights or a stop sign. Drivers should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion; the driver is signaled by the bus driver to proceed; or the visual signal is no longer activated.
A driver is not required to stop for a school bus if it is on a highway with roadways separated by an intervening space or physical barrier. However, highways divided only by a left-turning lane are not considered separated, and drivers must stop for school buses.
Drivers who illegally pass school buses face fines up to $1,250 for a first offense. For individuals convicted of this offense more than once, the law allows DPS to suspend the driver license for up to six months. Additionally, a ticket for illegally passing a school bus cannot be dismissed through defensive driving.