by Tim O’Hare
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Texas schools are back in session next week, which means drivers will need to pay extra attention when driving through school zones.
Last fall, Texas implemented new laws for school zones, which expanded limitations on cell phone use in an active school zone crossing to include all school property, including parking lots and drop off lanes. Violators of the cell phone ban face fines of up to $200. There are exceptions for hands-free devices, emergency calls and vehicles that are stopped.
The new laws enacted last year also increased fines for passing a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading children. The new penalty range is $500 to $1,250.
According to NHTSA, an average of 18 school-age children die in school transportation-related crashes each year. Of those, six are occupants of a school transportation vehicle, while the other 12 are pedestrians.
Eighteen may not seem like many, but it is far too many innocent children who lose their lives walking or riding to or from school. As you prepare to send your child back to school, take a few minutes to review these school bus and school crossing safety tips from the NHTSA with your child:
• Always get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is due to arrive.
• Never run across the road to catch the bus.
• If you have to walk on roads where there is no sidewalk, walk against traffic. Try to stay off the road as much as possible.
• When crossing the street to get to the bus, always look left, then right, then left again. If cars or other objects are obstructing your view, go to the nearest corner crosswalk.
• When the bus approaches, stand at least three large steps from the curb.
• Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay to board before stepping onto the bus.
• Never walk behind the bus or close to the side of the bus. You could be in the driver’s blind spot.
• If you drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up until you tell the bus driver or he or she may not see you.
As adults, we have a responsibility not only to teach our children to be safe, but to make a habit of always practicing safe driving, especially in school zones. Put away any hand-held devices when driving through school zones, observe the posted speed limit, and watch for children crossing the street. If you are unsure if a school zone is active, always assume it is.
If you or your child has been hurt as the result of a school transportation-related accident, contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare for a free consultation with a Dallas personal injury attorney.
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