School zone flashers are being activated this week throughout Deep East Texas for the new school year. Drivers are urged to be cautious and alert as they drive through school zones.

While the return to school might be different for many students and teachers this year, TxDOT wants to remind motorists that state law requires drivers to reduce speed to the posted school zone speed limit while flashers are activated. Even if school is not officially back in session over the next week or so, obey the flashing lights and adhere to the proper speed limit.

“The return to school will be different for many students this year with varied times, locations and safety protocols to remember,” said Rhonda Oaks, Lufkin District public information officer. “We want motorists to follow all state laws and safety tips for driving through school zones and around school buses. Motorists should always stay alert for walkers, bicyclists and students entering and exiting a school bus.”

Laws and safety tips to remember for driving through school zones include:

  • Cell phone use is banned in active school zones. Anyone using a cell phone could face a fine of up to $200.
  • Obey school zone speed limits. Traffic fines double in school zones.
  • Student delivery and pick-up should only be done in the school’s designated areas, not in or near the street.
  • Be alert for students who might cross the street between vehicles.

Laws and safety tips for traveling near a school bus include:

  • A driver traveling in either direction 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 bus driver signals to proceed, or the visual signals are no longer activated.
  • If a road is divided only by a left-turn lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses while lights are activated. If the travel lanes are separated by an intervening median or physical barrier, only motorists traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.
  • Violators could face up to a $1,000 fine.

Parents of students who walk or bike to school should also be aware of safe practices and discuss them with their students before school begins. Safety tips for students include:

  • Always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks. Look left, right, and then left again before proceeding.
  • Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked cars.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Always obey crossing guards.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
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