AUSTIN – In conjunction with National School Bus Safety Week (Oct. 16-20), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is urging Texans to comply with laws prohibiting drivers from passing school buses. During this period, DPS Highway Patrol Troopers will be looking for drivers who violate the law. It is illegal to pass any school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal – either flashing red lights or a stop sign.
“Motorists should always be alert and practice safe driving habits when traveling near school buses or anywhere school children gather, including bus stops,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Texas parents can rest assured that DPS will not tolerate those who recklessly endanger children by ignoring the law.”
“Ensuring our students have a safe trip to and from school is a commitment the Texas Education Agency shares with the Texas Department of Public Safety,” said Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. “We commend the dedication of our Texas Highway Patrol, as well as local law enforcement, during National School Bus Safety week and throughout the year in working to keep our students safe.”
During National School Bus Safety Week, Troopers in many areas will be riding on or following school buses to catch motorists who break the law. Because children are particularly vulnerable when entering or exiting a school bus, Troopers will also be patrolling areas where school buses pick up and drop off students. Drivers who violate the law could face fines as much as $1,250.
In 2016 and year to date in 2017, Texas Highway Patrol Troopers have issued 1,100 citations and 573 warnings for passing a stopped school bus.
According to Texas statute, a driver – traveling in either direction on a roadway – must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped andoperating a visual signal. The driver may not proceed until one of the following occurs: the school bus resumes motion; the operator is signaled by the bus driver to proceed; or the visual signal is no longer activated.
If a road is divided only by a left-turning lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses with alternating red flashing lights activated. However, if the lanes are separated by an intervening space or physical barrier, only motorists traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.
(As a reminder, school buses, by law, must stop at all railroad crossings.)
Here are several safety measures drivers can take to help keep children safer:
- When driving in school zones, watch out for student pedestrians.
- Slow down and watch for children congregating near bus stops.
- Look for children who might dart into the street without checking for traffic.
- Know and obey the traffic laws regarding school buses in Texas.
According to the Texas Education Agency, more than 42,000 school buses transport approximately 1.5 million Texas children every school day.