TxDOT, UPPD Offer Safety Tips as School Begins in Texas

As millions of Texas children return to school this month, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and University Park Police Department (UPPD)are reminding motorists and parents to take precautions to prevent traffic crashes and injuries in and around school buses.

HPISD students return to campus on Aug. 22.

With school back in session, the streets around the city’s various campuses will be more congested. UPPD reminds motorists that active school zones are designated by flashing yellow lights.

The crosswalk at Golf and Granada now has pedestrian signage that flashes with the push of a button. City crews installed the equipment last month following a request from nearby neighbors. The crosswalk is heavily used by students as they come and go from the intermediate/middle school campus, a few blocks away.

“Parents, please make sure that your children use the sidewalks when walking or riding their bikes to school,” city staff urges. “Children should follow the directions of the crossing guard, who will make sure they cross safely. Early in the school year, UPPD will have extra officers watching queuing lanes at the elementary, intermediate and middle school campuses.”

School zone times in University Park
  • Elementary Schools – 7:15 to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m.
  • Intermediate/Middle School – 7:15 to 9 a.m. and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • High School – 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • 20 MPH is the speed limit in all active school zones.

According to TxDOT statistics, last year, there were 765 traffic crashes in Texas school zones, resulting in one death and 15 serious injuries.

The most common causes for these crashes were a failure to control speed, driver inattention, and failure to yield the right of way when turning left to a private drive or at a stop sign.

In addition, 2018 saw 2,357 traffic crashes involving school buses in Texas, which resulted in five fatalities and 42 serious injuries. Speed and driver inattention also were the top factors in those crashes.

Tips for children that walk or bike to school
  • Always walk on sidewalks whenever they’re available.
  • 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 cars.
  • 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.
Tips for drivers sharing the road with school buses:
  • Never tailgate. Follow at a safe distance, keeping in mind that school buses make frequent stops.
  • 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 on driving in school zones:
  • 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 usually double 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.

TxDOT urges drivers to slow down, pay attention and follow all traffic laws as the new school year begins to keep children safe and avoid costly fines and tickets.

Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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