If you drive near a school, you noticed all the children walking and riding their bikes and their moms and dads driving them this morning. And of course, you saw the big yellow school buses. And soon we’ll have an eclipse of the sun, well, mostly. Not a typical day to be driving, right?
As our students dive into their books, it’s time for drivers to do a little homework. Here’s a quick refresher on the traffic laws that will keep kids safe and help you avoid a very expensive traffic ticket.
School bus laws
Getting stuck behind a school bus can be frustrating. Can you pass one that is stopped in the other direction? Here is the law in Texas:
- When the bus’s red lights activate and start flashing, you must stop, whether you approach the bus from behind or in the opposite traveling lane.
- You do not have to stop if the bus is stopped on a different road, a controlled access highway or in a loading zone that doesn’t permit pedestrians to cross.
- Wait to pass a bus until it is moving and its red lights are no longer flashing.
- As you start moving, always watch for kids who might remain in the area after the bus has departed.
The ticket for violating Texas school bus passing laws is a whopping $500 to $1250 for the first time and up to $2000 if you do it again. Especially if you know you your regular drive to work is on a school bus route, you can avoid being late by leaving a little earlier or taking a different way to work.
School zone laws
School zones are areas near a school and take effect only during specified times, such as when kids are being dropped off or picked up from school. A flashing yellow light is activated on the school zone sign to signify that the school zone laws are in effect. When the light is not flashing, you can continue as normal.
School zone laws include driving the posted speed limit, which is usually 20 mph, and not using an electronic device. This last rule should be your standard practice, and as of September 1, you can be ticketed for texting while driving anywhere, not just in a school zone.
There are no changes to the traffic laws in residential streets during the school year. However, drivers should be extra alert to kids walking to and from their bus stops. A child who is running late may dart across the road to catch her bus without looking for traffic. Parked cars and hedges can obstruct your view until the child is in the road.
This year, the close of school might overlap with the end of the solar eclipse, which might cause more chaos than usual. Don’t be tempted to take your eyes off the road. On that note, don’t be tempted to look at the sun which can cause damage to your eyes.