With school underway for many students in Texas, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding drivers to take extra precautions.

Drivers are expected to slow down in school zones, be careful around school buses, follow all traffic laws, and stay alert around schools and surrounding areas where children may be walking or playing. The start of school can also cause an increase in overall traffic in many areas.

DPS Director Steven McCraw says, while going back to school brings students new opportunities, it also requires more awareness and caution from drivers to ensure students stay safe. He says DPS will not tolerate reckless driving that “puts children in harm’s way”.

According to state law, if a school bus has alternating flashing red signals visible from the front or rear, drivers must stop before reaching the bus. Drivers can only proceed if the flashing lights are no longer on, the bus driver signals to advance, or the bus has resumed driving.

Approaching drivers do not have to stop for a school bus using a visual signal, but only if the roadway is separated by a physical barrier or intervening space. If a highway is divided only by a left-turning lane, the roadways are not considered separated, and drivers need to stop for school buses.

As a reminder, school buses are legally required to stop at all railroad crossings.

Drivers who illegally pass school buses face fines of up to $1,250 for the first offense. For those convicted more than once, law allows for the individual’s driver license to be suspended for up to six months.  A ticket for illegally passing a school bus cannot be dismissed through defensive driving.  Additionally, the offense could include criminal charges if there is serious bodily injury caused.

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