With the start of school coming this next week, everyone is reminded to be alert and aware of kids headed to and from school, school zones and school buses.
Sulphur Springs Independent School District’s Rusty Hardin said Friday everyone is anticipating it will require a few days to get used to school zones and drop off and pick up procedures.
“Make sure you look for children crossing the roadways and parking lots and vehicles slowing down in school zone areas,” Hardin cautioned. “Also be aware of buses dropping off and picking up students. Sulphur Springs Elementary School has added a school zone on League Street that has a reduction in speed during pick up and drop off hours.
Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jay Sanders said additions have been made to the school zones on South League Street.
“We have put flashing yellow lights up for South League,” Sanders said. “For the past few years, it has just been a sign but we have put flashing lights up to kind of help folks out. The speed limit drops down tot 25 in there. Around the elementary school, there are just regular signs.”
Sanders also issued a reminder about the use of cell phones in school zones.
“The big thing is cell phones,” the police chief cautioned. “You can be driving 10 miles an hour and if you are texting or talking on the cell phone and not paying attention – it doesn’t matter if you are driving 10 or 50, it’s just dangerous to be doing that.”
Texas Department of Public Safety, city police, Hopkins County Sheriff’s Department and school district police departments also remind drivers about the safety issues and laws concerning school buses.
“With children heading back to school, drivers can help keep Texas students safe by obeying all speed limits - especially in posted school zones - and stopping for school buses,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Individuals who illegally pass stopped school buses endanger our children, and DPS officers will not tolerate drivers who break the law and put others in harm’s way.”
One of the most dangerous times of a student’s trip on a school bus is when they are entering or exiting the bus. Drivers are urged to slow down and pay attention in school zones since children may step into a roadway without checking for oncoming traffic.
State law requires that approaching drivers stop when a bus is stopped and operating a visual signal - either red flashing lights or a stop sign. Drivers should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion; the driver is signaled by the bus driver to proceed; or the visual signal is no longer activated. A driver does not have to stop for a school bus if it is on a highway with roadways separated by an intervening space or physical barrier. If only a left-turning lane divides a highway, the roadways are not considered separated, and drivers must stop for school buses.
“Drivers who illegally pass school buses face fines as much as $1,250 for a first offense,” Director McCraw said. “For individuals convicted of this offense more than once, the law allows DPS to suspend the driver license for up to six months. Also, a ticket for illegally passing a school bus cannot be dismissed through defensive driving.”
For drop off and picking up students, Rusty Hardin said there will be SSISD police officers and additional city police officers directing the traffic to help ease the congestion. The heaviest traffic areas seem to be SSMS and ECLC during that first week of school. Please pay attention to the officers and staff that are directing traffic and assisting in drop off and pick up procedures.
“We are reminding everybody to slow down and watch for the kids,” Sanders said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”