DPS offers driving tips for back-to-school season

When school starts, the highways will be exponentially busier.
Texas Department of Public Safety.
Texas Department of Public Safety.(KAUZ)
Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 12:43 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - As children start to travel to and from school, driving on the highway can be a stressful affair.

The DPS has released a few tips to make sure that drivers know the proper procedures in order to keep themselves and other city residents safe.

  • Give students extra room and don’t assume they are paying attention to your vehicle. Students are often distracted by mobile devices, listening to electronic devices or by other students, and they may not be paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Don’t block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or stop sign.
  • Follow the directions of school crossing guards.
  • Watch for children on bicycles traveling to and from schools.
  • Reduce your speed when you spot a school bus and know children may unexpectedly step into the road without checking for oncoming traffic.
  • Be careful around railroad crossings. School buses are legally required to stop at them.
  • Know the laws regarding school buses. According to Texas law, if a bus has alternating flashing red signals visible from the front or rear, drivers MUST stop before reaching the bus. Drivers can only proceed if the flashing lights are no longer activated, the driver signals you to proceed or the bus has resumed driving. Approaching drivers do NOT have to stop for a school bus that is operating a visual signal if the road is separated by a physical barrier or an intervening space. If a highway is only divided by a left-turn lane, it is not considered divided, and drivers must stop for school buses.
  • Drivers who illegally pass a school bus face fines up to $1,250 for the first offense. For people convicted of the offense more than once, the law allows for the person’s driver license to be suspended for up to six months. A ticket for this offense cannot be dismissed through defensive driving. Criminal charges are possible if a driver causes someone serious bodily injury.
  • Always obey speed limits and traffic laws in school zones.
  • Remember, texting while driving is illegal in Texas.

DPS also wishes to remind readers of the existence of several other safety tools.

The iWatchTexas program is designed to report suspicious activities in schools or other communities. Everyone is encouraged to download the iWatchTexas mobile app on iOS or Android before the school year starts. Report suspicious activity via the website, the mobile app, or by calling (844) 643-2251. iWatchTexas is NOT for emergencies. If there is an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.

The Texas School Safety Center is a central location for research, training, and technical information on school safety for school districts, charter schools, and community colleges in the state. Community classes are available online.

Finally, the Active Shooter Alert System was implemented in 2021 by the DPS. It can be used in the event of a shooting at or near a school, and will notify those in close proximity through cell phones, local broadcast media, and Texas Department of Transportation Dynamic Message Signs.

DPS will issue an Active Shooter Alert when an agency submits a request that meets the requirements. Those include an active shooter in the agency’s jurisdiction, determining that the alert would assist people near the active shooter’s location, verification of the active shooter situation through a preliminary investigation by the requesting agency, and that the shooter’s last known location is identifiable.