Drivers, are you ready for school?

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Get used to school zones and slow buses

A lot of changes happen on the first day of school …. for children and drivers alike.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve lived by the same school for years, you might easily forget about school zones and slow buses during the blissful summer months when those driving issues don’t exist.

The first few weeks of school can be a shock to the system. Last week, you were driving at 35 or 40 MPH down the street. This week, you have to slow down to 20 MPH.

But just as your children have to get their minds into gear, so do we drivers.

How school traffic rules protect kids

If the slow pace of driving through a school zone took you by surprise, you aren’t the only one. Accidents in school zones increase every year for the first two months, and then taper off until May, when drivers finally get used to the zones —  just in time for the summer break.

During the 2015-2016 school year, a total of 671 accidents occurred in school zones in Texas. 81 auto accidents happened in Texas school zones last September and 80 last October. By May, that number was only 61.

I represent the family of a little girl who was hit by a car while running across the street to catch her bus and was seriously injured. I’ve represented other children hit while walking and riding their bikes to school and adults in cars and trucks hit by school buses.

Getting stuck behind a bus can be frustrating, but these rules protect kids from the types of serious injuries my client sustained.

What are the school driving rules?

School zone signs alert drivers to the speed limit at designated times and post the applicable hours, typically in the mornings at drop-off time and the afternoons at pickup. It is often 20 MPH. Most signs also have flashing yellow lights to further alert drivers.

Of course the main reason to obey school laws is to protect students. But, you may also get a hefty traffic summons too.

Speeding through a school zone costs more than a regular speeding ticket — at least $25 more in Fort Worth and $55 more in Arlington.

Texas law bans talking on a cell phone or texting while driving through designated school zones — that can cost you a $200 ticket.

Drivers are not permitted to pass a bus that has its lights and stop arm activated. You must stop even if travelling in the opposite direction on a two-lane road or an undivided four-lane highway. You can pass if travelling in the opposite direction on a divided highway or if the bus is parked and doesn’t have the stop arm and lights activated. Disobeying this law can land you a $1000 citation. Ouch!

Check out the graphics above to understand when you must stop and when you can keep driving. MedStar EMS Alerts Tweeted this helpful information to clear up confusion about these laws.

We at Berenson Injury Law wish all the Dallas-Fort Worth students a happy, safe school year!

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