It’s that time of year again – when your morning commute gets 10+ minutes longer because of school buses, parents, and teen drivers. But there’s one part of your commute you should be taking extra caution: School zones. These are areas near schools where kids may be walking across traffic to get to school.
While actual speed limits vary between school zones, there are a few rules you should be aware of that are always in effect while the lights are flashing.
Slow down, no matter what
While it may be tempting to speed through a seemingly deserted school zone, law enforcement is typically strict about school speed limits. Speeding through can also be dangerous to other vehicles that have slowed down and aren’t anticipating your high speed.
Regardless of the traffic and pedestrian situation, you can still be ticketed upwards of $215.
Keep an eye out for pedestrians
Just because you don’t see children in a school zone doesn’t mean there aren’t any nearby. Children can be harder to see because of their size and can be hidden by trees, power boxes, or other cars. Some kids bike to school as well.
All cell phone activity is prohibited
While it’s not illegal to use a cell phone while driving in Texas, with the exception of texting, school zones have much stricter rules. Drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone at all while driving through a school zone. This is often overlooked by drivers who aren’t aware of stricter school zone laws. The fine for using a cell phone in a school zone? Expect a bill for $229.
This law extends to all school property as well. If you’re in the school parking lot, keep the phone down until you’re parked.
Don’t pass a stopped car near school zones
A stopped car might mean they’re allowing a pedestrian to cross the street. Passing the stopped car without stopping to look first may result in hitting a pedestrian. Stop, let people fully cross the road before proceeding.
Do not block crosswalks
Again, a crosswalk is a safe way for pedestrians to cross the street. Sitting on the crosswalk blocks this safe space for pedestrians, causing them to go a different route that other drivers may not expect.
Respect the crossing guard
Crossing guards protect children and other pedestrians. If they are on the road, wait for them to get to the sidewalk before proceeding. Crossing guards are also placed at the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians, which means that cars need to take extra caution to provide a safe area for everyone.
Stop for school buses
If a school bus stops with its lights on, whether in a school zone or not, be sure to stop – no matter what side of the street you are on. Flashing lights mean children are either getting on or off the bus. Kids are especially unpredictable and could run out unexpectedly or be obscured from sight. Wait for the bus to start moving again and turn off its lights before proceeding.
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