CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Today is the first day of school for many CCISD teachers and students, which means school buses will be on the roads, and school zones will be enforced.
The Texas Department of Transportation says there were 765 traffic crashes last year in Texas school zones, resulting in one death and 15 serious injuries.
“The main causes of these were failure to control speed, driver inattention, and failure to yield the right of way, and this includes turning left to a private drive such as a school entrance,” said TXDOT Public Information Officer Rickey Dailey.
Last year there were close to 2,500 crashes involving school buses, and this resulted in five fatalities.
“Remember that school buses make frequent stops," he said. "Also, if a school bus is stopped, and it has its flashing red lights or a stop sign extended, you must, as a driver, stop. Drivers in both directions must stop. The only exception is when there is a median between you and a school bus. If you fail to follow this rule, you can be fined up to $1,250 for a first offense.”
Motorists should remember that traffic fines double in active school zones, and cell phone use is prohibited.
“An important reminder is to drop off or pick up your children in the school's designated area," he said. . "o not drop off your children in the middle of the street, and also watch for children who may be darting in between vehicles or darting into the street."
TxDOT also is telling parents to teach their kids to make eye contact with the driver, and don’t assume that because you’re crossing in a crosswalk, the driver is going to stop.
“Cross the street at intersections or at marked crosswalks," he said. "Always obey your crossing guards; they are looking out for you and will help you get across the street safely. Never assume that a driver will see you if you are walking or biking to school. Make eye contact with the driver."
TxDOT offers the following back-to-school tips for drivers and students.
Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School
• Always walk on sidewalks whenever they’re available.
• 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 cars.
• 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.
Tips for Drivers Sharing the Road with School Buses
• Never tailgate. Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
• 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.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 1,000,000 students in Texas depend on buses to get to and from school, and they depend on drivers to safely follow laws when driving near them.
Tips for Driving in School Zones
• 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 usually double 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.
TxDOT urges drivers to slow down, pay attention and follow all traffic laws as the new school year begins to keep children safe and avoid costly fines and tickets.