We are approaching back to school season, and that means that school zones will become more active as millions of students return to school. As summer comes to an end, now is the perfect time to brush up on laws surrounding schools, including what to do in school zones and when approaching a school bus. Being aware of Texas road rules during the upcoming back to school season will not only help to keep our kids safe, but could also help you avoid tickets, penalties or even worse — jail time.
Around School Buses
Generally, you will want to be extra cautious when driving through school zones, and always drive with care when near a school bus. According to the Texas Driver Handbook, drivers must yield the right-of-way to school buses regardless of if the school bus is in your neighborhood or in a school zone. If you approach a school bus that is displaying alternately flashing lights, you must stop, even if you are approaching the bus from the opposite direction. You are not permitted to pass or overtake a school buses until it has either started moving again, stopped flashing its red lights, or the driver has given you a signal to proceed. Drivers who violate this law and pass a school bus during one of these moments could face fines up to $1,250, and in the unfortunate event that you injure a pedestrian while passing a school bus, you could face a fine up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail.
You should also be aware that many school buses have been equipped with cameras that capture images and document the offending vehicles, resulting in citations being sent via mail. Drivers who are caught by cameras passing a bus typically face a higher penalty, than they would if a police officer had pulled them over. In a nutshell, make sure you stop for school buses. If you don’t, it is considered a moving violation, and in addition to the fine you may receive points on your license.
Avoid Cell Phone Use
In addition to driving carefully around school buses, drivers will also want to hang up their cell phones or other hand-held devices before entering school zones, including in the parking lots and drop off lanes of public elementary, middle, junior high, and high schools. This is to help ensure that drivers are aware and alert of students who may be in the road. Drivers who are caught using a cell phone while on school property could face a fine up to $500.
When driving in school zones, always pay attention and adhere to the posted speed limit. Speed limits are posted in school zones to minimize the risk of children being injured by drivers, and these traffic fines are typically doubled in such areas. School zones in the Austin area may have different speed limits, depending on the type of road. However, they typically fall between 15 miles per hour and 35 miles per hour.
When you follow Texas traffic laws, you not only protect yourself, but you also protect the millions of students who are returning to school from being injured on the road. However, in the unfortunate event that you become the recipient of a fine or a suspended license, the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas (LRS) can assist you in finding an attorney in Austin or surrounding areas that may be able to help you reduce the penalty or have it removed completely.
Having a lawyer on your side could make a difference – you may be able to save money, safeguard your license, and avoid increased insurance rates. To find out more about school zone or traffic laws, to have your questions answered, or to find a Texas lawyer, contact us today.