Here in Texas, back to school sale flyers and commercials remind us that it is almost that time of year. Soon, book bags will be packed, lunches will be made, kids will be walking to bus stops and school, and students will be back on the school bus en route to school.
Over a million Texas children catch a bus to school each year. The good news is, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the school bus is the safest vehicle on the road. However, the Texas Department of Transportation reported 811 crashes in school zones statewide in 2017. Of these 811 crashes, two resulted in deaths, and 30 in serious injuries.
Tragedies like this can be prevented. Motorists need to drive safely and follow Texas school bus and school zone laws. Our attorneys have put together some safety tips to remind drivers, pedestrians, and children to pay attention, be alert and stay safe when the back to school traffic starts moving again. Remember:
- Flashing yellow lights on a bus indicate the bus will be stopping. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop.
- Flashing red lights and a STOP sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or getting off the bus. All motorists must stop, regardless of which direction they are going. The only time a motorist does not need to stop is when there is a physical barrier on the road dividing the lanes. Motorists can begin moving again when the lights stop flashing, the STOP sign is removed, the bus begins to move, or the bus driver signals it is okay to pass.
- Motorists should follow buses at a safe distance, and remember that school buses make frequent stops.
Safety reminders for children entering, exiting, and sitting on the bus
It is not only important for drivers to drive safely, but children must also be prepared, and be safe as well. Parents and guardians should remind children to do the following:
- Stand as far away from the street as possible when waiting for a bus.
- Wait for the bus to completely stop and watch for the driver to signal that it is safe to board.
- Hold the handrail and find a seat quickly.
- Listen to the bus driver, stay in your seat, and avoid distracting the driver.
- Wait for the bus to completely stop and watch for the driver to signal that it is safe to exit the bus.
- Only cross in front of the bus after exiting, never cross behind it. Make eye contact with the bus driver and wait for the driver’s signal that it is okay to cross.
- Look left-right-left before crossing the street, and only cross when there is no traffic and all vehicles have stopped.
Share the road safely with children walking and biking to school
Below, you will find tips for sharing the roads safely with children who walk or bike to school each day in Texas:
- Be careful when reversing out of the driveway. Look for children on the sidewalk, behind the vehicle, and in the street. Use all mirrors and any backup camera to be sure you are backing out responsibly.
- Slow down. Follow speed limits. Some school zone speed limits can be as low as 15 mph.
- Come to a complete stop at STOP signs. Do not roll through stop signs, and stay alert at all intersections in a school zone. They are busy before and after school.
- Watch for children walking on sidewalks and in the street as you drive.
- Watch for children darting across the street or in between vehicles to catch buses.
- Watch for bicycles. Give cyclists three feet of passing distance.
- As in all driving situations, eliminate all distractions including eating and using electronic devices.
- Drop off and pick up children in designated zones. Watch for students who may be rushing to and from drop off areas.
Safety reminders for walkers, bikers, and children being dropped off and picked up
- Do not walk or run in between vehicles.
- Stay alert and avoid distractions.
- Put away cell phones.
- Do not text while walking or riding your bike to school, or when you are surrounded by cars in a school zone.
- Cross only at intersections and look left-right-left before crossing the street.
- Don’t cross multi-lane highways.
- Obey crossing guards.
- Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
- Walk on the sidewalks.
- Wear a safety helmet when riding a bicycle.
Don’t rush back to school this year. Take your time, be alert, and stay safe on the way to and from school.
If your child is injured in a school bus accident or in a drop-off/pick-up zone, please call Slack Davis Sanger at 800-455-8686, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We maintain offices in Fort Worth, Austin, and Dallas, and serve all of Texas.
The firm handles cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and deaths. Our work spans three decades of handling airplane and helicopter crashes, truck and car accidents, oilfield and construction accidents, and other devastating accidents. We try lawsuits throughout the country in both federal and state courts and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. To date, we have handled or tried cases in 47 states, read more about our attorneys and firm.