Cars piled into the parking lots of schools as parents and students made their way through the clanging doors of classrooms once again. As parents rejoiced that school is back in session, the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Transportation urged drivers to watch for children in school zone and bus stop areas.
??You need to have all of your attention focused on the road when you??re around kids. That??s because kids are either walking or biking or getting on and off a school bus and they can be darting in and out of traffic. You??ve just got to be ready for the unexpected,?? said TxDOT representative, Paul Braun.
According to a TxDOT report, 625 incidents occurred in school zones last year that resulted in two deaths and 112 serious injuries. That is why both TxDOT and DPS are encouraging drivers to take extra safety precautions, like reducing speed and getting off of cellphones, when driving around school zones. Now, in the state of Texas, it is illegal to use a cell phone in a school zone, whether a sign is posted or not.
??It is time to kind of slow down, be aware of all the safety warnings that are posted, stay off your cell phone, no texting, just be aware. We??ve got a lot of young children out in the area,?? said Jacob Hazell, a parent of two daughters who just finished dropping off his girls for their first day of school.
According to DPS, the most dangerous part of a child riding a school bus is when they are entering or exiting the bus. Officials said that children have tendencies to dart into the roadway without paying attention to traffic and that drivers often do not obey the correct laws regarding stopped buses.
??If you??re traveling and you see a school bus and that school bus starts flashing the red lights and that stop arm comes out, you have to stop. And that??s for the safety of the children,?? said Braun. ??Mostly it??s not paying attention. It??s being distracted.??
And while drivers and parents are encouraged to drive safely in school zone areas, parents are also encouraged to talk to their children about safety as well, ensuring they keep an extra eye out when crossing into those roadways of busy traffic.
??They should be taught to you know stop, look both ways, make sure there??s not traffic coming before they get out in the road. Because like I said, sometimes the driver is distracted and just don??t see them,?? said James Putnam, a school crossing guard.