Back-to-school safety: The do’s and don’ts of driving through school zones.


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


With the start of a new school year upon us, Captain James Gresham with the Stephenville Police Department is issuing a safety reminder for drivers traveling through school zones.


“We are excited to start a new school year and looking forward to a safe and fantastic year,” Gresham told Beneath the Surface News.

For the first week, officers will be stationed at every school – either on foot or in patrol cars – to help drivers adjust to the traffic flow.


He said officers are not looking to issue traffic citations, but will if serious laws are violated, and is reminding the public that drivers are not allowed to talk or text while in school zones.

"Officers will be following the school buses, especially in high-traffic areas. We ask drivers to treat buses like a stop light,” Gresham said. “When the yellow light is flashing, that’s your clue to start slowing down and when it’s red, you need to stop.


“That applies to both sides of the roadway for every road in town.”

Drivers who illegally pass a school bus face fines up to $1,250 for the first offense and criminal charges are possible if a driver causes someone serious bodily injury.


For people convicted of the offense more than once, the law allows for the person’s driver license to be suspended for up to six months. A ticket for this offense cannot be dismissed through defensive driving.

Here are a few more safety tips issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.


• Give students extra room and don’t assume they are paying attention to traffic. Students are frequently distracted by mobile devices or listening on electronic devices and may not be paying attention to their surroundings.

• Don’t block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or stop sign.


• Follow the directions of school crossing guards.


• Watch for children on bicycles traveling to and from schools.

• Reduce speed when you spot a school bus and know children may unexpectedly step into the road without checking for oncoming traffic.


• Be careful around railroad crossings. School buses are legally required to stop at them.