The most likely way for a child to die in this country is by car accident. This matters to every driver, even those not carrying kids. There are serious dangers to children posed by unsafe driving, and it’s something you should take seriously – especially now that another school year is upon us.
For children, some of the most dangerous times of the day are when they enter and exit the school bus. It’s a critical traffic moment that many drivers undervalue. However much it slows down your commute, it’s simply not okay to cut around a school bus while it’s stopped. Children can’t be expected to pay full attention as they cross the street – but drivers can.
The Law of the Land
Beginning September 1st, penalties for drivers who illegally pass school buses in Texas will be sharply increased. A first time offense will cost the driver $1250. A second offense will mean license suspension. And unlike other moving violations, you can’t remove the points from your driving record by taking a defensive driving course.
“As the new school year opens, I urge drivers to do their part in keeping youngsters safe by obeying school zone speed limits and stopping for school buses,” said the DPS director in announcing the change. “DPS will not tolerate individuals who disregard the law and illegally pass stopped school buses.”
Over twenty crashes happen every year in the danger zone around a school bus – prompting the DPS campaign around National School Bus Safety Week that encourages drivers to “Know the Zone.” As one official put it, “even one injury is too many.”
The Spirit of the Law
Using caution in a school zone isn’t just a way of getting out of a ticket. It’s not even just a way of keeping everyone safe – although that is the most important thing. School buses should be a signal to all motorists to drive with children in mind.
That means acknowledging that children aren’t responsible for anything that happens to them on the road; grown-ups are. Taking the wheel means taking responsibility for the people who aren’t able to take responsibility on their own. Kids will be kids, after all, and one of them running for a ball or crossing blindly in front of their school bus should be protected by every driver on the road.
The Danger Zone
Places where children go to school or play regularly are marked as dangerous traffic zones, and they should be observed as such by drivers making their way through them. Slow down and consider what might happen if a child moves unexpectedly.
Around a school bus, there’s an established danger zone in which accidents most often occur. Take it seriously. Stop when the bus is stopped, and allow the bus driver to set the tone for traffic. It may be slower than you’d like, but when children are involved, it’s always best to play it safe and do the right thing.