The most dangerous time of a student's journey on a school bus is when they are entering or exiting the bus, the Texas Department of Public Safety says. And state law requires that approaching drivers stop when a school bus is stopped and operating a visual signal (red flashing lights or a stop sign).
Drivers may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, or the driver is signaled to proceed by the bus driver, the agency notes.
A driver need not stop if the bus is on a highway with roadways separated by an intervening space or a physical barrier. If that highway is divided by only a left-turning lane, the DPS adds, a driver must stop.
Drivers who do not stop for school buses face a fine of up to $1,000, the DPS adds. If a driver is convicted of this offense more than one time, the DPS can suspend their license for up to six months.
In recent years, police have begun enforcing a law regarding the use of cell phones in school zones.
It's a crime to talk or text on a cell phone while driving in such zones (there's an exception for hand-free devices).
From August 2009 to August 2011, Tyler police issued 1,591 tickets for using cell phones in school zones. Since then, they've issued another 1,600 tickets.
The fine is up to $200 with those court costs added on.
In a study released in 2010, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that when drivers of heavy trucks texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting, the Associated Press reports. Dialing a cell phone and using or reaching for an electronic device increased risk of collision about six times in cars and trucks. The Virginia Tech researchers said the risks of texting generally applied to all drivers, not just truckers.
Yet an estimated 20 percent of us are guilty of texting and driving; when the age group of 18 to 24 is broken out, the number jumps to 66 percent.
So don t. Ur fam <3s u (that's text-speak for “your family loves you”).
Speeding in school zones is an even larger problem. Tyler police issued 3,025 citations for speeding in a school zone last year, with more citations issued for failure to stop for a school bus.
Police also ticket drivers for disobeying a crossing guard.
A new school year means new opportunities and a new routine for school children. It also means new responsibilities for the rest of us.