This week, school districts throughout the country are observing school bus safety week. In conjunction with National School Bus Safety Week, the Texas Department of Public Safety is urging Texans to comply with laws prohibiting drivers from passing school buses.
Between Oct. 16 and 20, DPS Troopers will be looking for drivers who violate the law. A news release from DPS said in many areas troopers will be riding on or following school buses to catch motorists who break 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,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in the news release. “Texas parents can rest assured that DPS will not tolerate those who recklessly endanger children by ignoring 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 of as much as $1,250. Texas Troopers have issued 1,100 citations and 573 warnings for passing a stopped school bus in 2016 and in 2017.
According to Texas statute, a driver – traveling in either direction on a roadway – must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal.
The driver may not proceed until 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.
According to the Texas Education Agency, more than 42,000 school buses transport approximately 1.5 million Texas children every school day.
“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.”
National School Bus Safety Week is held during the third full week of October. It is an active and evolving public education program. The week is an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety, according to the National Association of Pupil Transportation's website.
Visit napt.org/nsbsw for more information about National School Bus Safety Week.
Safety measures drivers can take to help keep children safe.
• Watch out for students and pedestrians when driving in school zones.
• 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.