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School Zone Safety Awareness

SCHOOL ZONE SAFETY AWARENESS

 

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El Paso, Texas (April 19, 2021) —Despite much lower traffic levels around Texas schools due to the pandemic, there were still hundreds of crashes in school zones last year. So as millions of Texas students return to class, the Texas Department of Transportation and local partners are reminding drivers to watch out for kids walking and biking to school to keep everyone safe.

 

“The daily commute can have many distractions,” said TxDOT District Engineer Tomas Treviño. “These can be especially dangerous in school zones where not paying attention can not only result in a ticket, but someone getting hurt.”

 

Unfortunately, crashes in school zones can and do happen. There were 11 people seriously injured in school zone crashes in 2020, along with 1,214 crashes involving school buses across the state.

 

“As community, we want to do all we can to keep our children, school personnel and drivers safe around school zones,” said El Paso County District Attorney Yvonne Rosales. “One careless mistake can result in trouble.”

 

The most common causes for these crashes in school zones are failure to control speed, driver inattention, failure to yield the right of way at a stop sign and failure to yield the right of way at a private driveway.

 

El Paso Police Department Lieutenant Jaime Velasquez said, “We are encouraging all motorists to be mindful of school zones and school bus safety as the school year begins. After a summer of driving without school bus and students walking to and from school, drivers can often forget the challenges of driving in school zones. Now is the time to adjust your driving habits to ensure you aren’t involved in a potentially fatal crash with a pedestrian or receiving a costly ticket.”

 

TxDOT and partners are urging drivers to slow down, stay alert and follow all traffic laws to keep children safe and avoid costly fines and tickets. We all have a responsibility to keep children safe on their way to and from school.

 

“We are excited school is back in session across our region,” said Dr. Armando Aguirre, Education Service Center Region 19 Executive Director. “To keep students safe this coming school year, it’s critical both drivers and students take precautions in and around school zones. Everyone needs to do their part.”

 

To help remind everyone of back to school safety on our roads, a press conference and safety demonstration was held on Thursday, August 19 at 9 a.m. at the Education Service Center Region 19 located at 6611 Boeing.

 

Pictures and Live recorded stream of Press Conference

 

Police pulling over a school zone violator

 

Drivers across the city started seeing one visible reminder Monday as dynamic message signs on various highways show:

BACK TO SCHOOL, SLOW DOWN IN SCHOOL ZONES

WATCH FOR STOPPED SCHOOL BUSES

 

 

Tips for Driving in School Zones

  • Be aware that traffic patterns around schools may have changed since the last school year, and expect more vehicles on the road as many students will be returning for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
  • Stay alert and put your phone away. Using a handheld electronic device while driving in an active school zone is against the law.
  • Always obey school zone speed limit signs. Remember, traffic fines increase in school zones.
  • Drop off and pick up your children in your school’s designated areas, not the middle of the street.
  • Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.
  • Watch for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles.

Tips for Drivers Sharing the Road with School Buses

  • Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
  • Always remain alert for children around buses and remember that they may not always look for vehicles before crossing the street.
  • Stop for flashing red lights or a stop sign on a school bus, regardless of which direction you're headed. Continue your trip once the bus has moved, the flashing lights stop flashing or the bus driver signals it's okay to pass.
  • Violations can lead to a fine of up to $1,250 for a first offense.

Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School

  • Always use sidewalks. If there’s not a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
  • Cross the street at intersections or marked crosswalks. Look left, right and left again before proceeding.
  • Always obey crossing guards.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked vehicles.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Follow all traffic rules, signs and signals.

The information contained in this report represents reportable data collected from the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). This information was received and processed by the department as of July 8, 2021.