It makes my heart happy to see school buses going up and down the streets of my neighborhood this morning. After a long year and a half of the COVID-19 virus taking over our lives, it’s good to see that life is getting back to normal. With so many people vaccinated at this point, it seems like people are getting more comfortable with getting out and resuming a normal life.
It allows my soul to take a deep breath and just relax.
Let’s make sure though, that we take a few moments to remember that we have risks that we have not been watching for the way we did in early 2020.
We are returning to those blinking lights that indicate we need to slow down for school zones. Here are some safety tips to keep our kiddo’s safe and you free of speeding tickets
What Time Do School Zones Start?
Typically, school zones go into affect 45 minutes before school begins. That could be different in various school districts though. Remember, school zones also contain police officers that are enforcing the speed limit and making sure the kids stay safe.
Cell Phones Are A No-No
Make sure to put your cellphone and mobile device away when you are in a school zone. You can get a ticket if a police officer sees you on your cellphone. If it’s during a time of day when school speed zone limits are enforced you can face a fine of up to $200. Given that police officers are often on duty patrolling school zones, make sure to stay off your cell phone while driving but especially in a school zone.
Watch Out For Crossing Guards
Crossing guards are a true gift to the safety process of helping our kiddo’s get home safely, but sometimes the seem to jump out from no where and they do love to blow their whistle at oncoming cars!! Be on the watch especially at stop signs and street lights. This is especially important since the crossing guard dictates when it’s safe for you to proceed through the intersection. It is not necessarily when the light turns green…the crossing guard has the authority here. Keep Your eyes open, make sure that all children are out of all walkways before you proceed from the intersection.
School Bus Safety: When To Yield To A School Bus
The busses are back!!! Be extra careful here. Please note, I see this all the time whenever I’m driving around town that people do not respect the laws around school buses. If you are on a street without a median between the two sections of the street going in the two different directions, then you must stop when the school bus is stopped, has lights flashing, and has their stop sign engaged.
The only exception to this rule is when you are driving on a road with a median, typically this is a 4-lane road. If the bus is stopped with lights flashing, picking up or dropping of children, and you’re on the other side of the road heading in the other direction you don’t have to stop.
When Does A School Zone End?
In Texas there is always a speed limit sign that marks the end of the school zone. Make sure you completely clear the zone before accelerating. The end of the school zone may extend past to the school so pay attention and follow the signs so keep your eyes open. Most school zone signs have blinking lights..but a lot don’t…so whether or not you see the sign or realize what time it is, the police officer can still write you a hearty ticket for speeding in a school zone.
What is the Speed Limit In A School Zone?
In Texas the speed limit is 20 mph in a school zone. You will know it’s an active school zone if lights are flashing on mechanized signs, or during certain times in the morning and afternoon. All of this information is sign posted so make sure you’re aware when driving near a school.
What Are The Fines For Speeding In A School Zone?
Speeding fines double in an active school zone which means at a minimum you’ll be faced with a $320 fine. Traffic fines listed below are from the Texas Courts.
- 1 to 10 mph over the speed limit $160
- 15 mph over the speed limit $185
- 20 mph over the speed limit $210
- Passing a stopped school bus up to $1,250 for a first offense
In 2017 the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reported 811 accidents, 2 deaths and 30 serious injuries as a result of drivers who failed to control their speed in a school zone or were distracted by a phone or some other in car activity. These accidents and fatalities, of course were entirely preventable if drivers would simply slow down and pay attention.
What Are The Largest Reasons For Accidents In School Zones?
Car accidents still happen in school zones just like they do in any other time of day or location. The top reasons for accidents in school zones are:
- Driving too fast
- Not paying attention, distracted by a mobile phone
- Not yielding the right of way to crossing guard, children and school buses
Always be aware that children can unexpectedly dart out on to the street, this is one of the most important reasons why you should be alert when driving in a school zone.
How Can You Keep Your Children Safe In A School Zone?
To keep your kids safe in a school zone can be tricky..there is a lot going on! It’s important that you teach your children some important safety tips for going to or coming home from school.
If students are walking or biking to school make sure they:
- Never walk with an electronic device or mobile, put it away until they are on school property or in school
- Wear a helmet at all times when riding a bike
- When possible, enter the school premises with the crossing guard
- Never play near the street or dart out in between parked cars
- When no crossing guard is present, look both ways before crossing the street
- Make eye contact with drivers on the road before crossing an unguarded crosswalk
Whether you’re a driver, a child going to school or a pedestrian, in Texas, you need be aware, at all times when approaching an intersection or crossing the street.