Officials offer tips for how to stay safe in school zones

Natassia Bonyanpour By Natassia Bonyanpour

Aug. 24, 2014 at 5:36 p.m.

The hustle and bustle of traffic during the first day of school can prove to be overwhelming. Students are rushing to be punctual for classes, parents are dropping off children, and congestion is to be anticipated.

There are many safety precautions that officials say are vital for drivers to follow in school zones.

The Texas Department of Transportation confirmed that last year there were 625 vehicle crashes in school zones in Texas. This resulted in two deaths and 112 serious injuries.

Officer John Turner of the Victoria Police Department shared several tips to assure every day of school is a safe one.

"It is important to be extra cautious when going into school zones," Turner said. "Remember, even when there are no yellow lights flashing, as long as school is in session, you need to slow down."

The most common violation within school zones are speeding fines, with drivers going 5 to 20 miles per hour above the limit, Turner said.

Cellphones are also restricted unless connected to a hands-free device.

A law passed last year, Texas Transportation code 545.4252, prohibits "using a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle on school property."

"The law means cellphones can't be used anywhere on campus," Turner said. "Not even when driving in the (school's) parking lot."

School buses stopping at the curb to pick up and drop off students is also a familiar sight during school. Turner reminded drivers that even on large streets, vehicles in all lanes, regardless of which direction they are traveling, must stop if the bus has its stop sign extended.

VISD spokeswoman Diane Boyett also shared some suggestions for a safe school year.

"Please leave early. Traffic patterns will be changing from what they used to be in the summer," Boyett said. "Be vigilant with kids walking around, slow down and take your time."

Boyett also said there is a significant change at East High school - a new traffic light has been installed on the school's driveway to Mockingbird Lane. This will allow smoother access to enter and exit the parking lot.



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