Law enforcement, school officials stress school bus, school zone safety ahead of new school year
“School is back in session. So start looking for school buses, start keeping an extra eye out and being alert and taking all the safety measures that you need to keep everyone safe.”
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - With the start of the new school year just days away, law enforcement officers and school officials are urging drivers to stay focused on Brazos County roadways.
Nearly 6,000 students depend on the school bus for transportation to and from school in Bryan. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest way for children to travel. It is the moments that children are getting on and off buses that are most critical and has officials concerned.
“We just don’t want anything bad to happen to our students. We want to keep every student safe, and we just hope that everyone is ready for the start of school,” said Norris McDaniel Jr., Bryan ISD transportation’s assistant director of operations.
McDaniel says many drivers follow too closely to school buses which could potentially cause a chain reaction crash.
“And you know, with the rain and inclement weather, which we’re about to start having as well, it’s best to not get too close to the bus, because the possibility of sliding is always there. If you’re going at a high rate of speed and the lights come on, they’ll turn yellow, and then they’ll turn red, and a person could actually slide into the bus,” said McDaniel. “We had it happen last year, a couple of times. When you’re trailing a bus or any vehicle, and you run into the back of them, it’s never good.”
McDaniel also warns drivers of the dangers of not obeying safety lights and stop signs.
“If you see yellow lights, you should be slowing down, preparing for a stop. If you see red lights, it’s always a stop. Red means stop,” said McDaniel. “In my opinion, when you see the yellow lights, you should be almost to the point of stopping. The safest thing to do is when the lights come on, stop.”
Officials with the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office say they will continue to patrol routes to ensure that drivers are obeying traffic laws. Deputy Wilcox, Public Information Officer for the sheriff’s office, says the fine is hefty if someone is caught not obeying the law.
“There’s going to be a ticket and a fine associated with that, and that can be as high as a $1,000,” said Wilcox. “It’s a pretty serious penalty. We take that very seriously.”
“We pretty much have our patrols already set up. We check on all the schools. We have our school resource officers at all the schools. They are part of our regular patrol as well,” said Wilcox. “Then we listen to any calls for service or any concerns that we get from the citizens. If anyone sees an area where people are going past school buses, just call us, let us know that way we can go deal with that.”
Wilcox also urges drivers to pay attention on divided highways.
“Just a reminder that both sides need to stop. If they have their red flashing lights on, they have the stop sign out. They’re coming to a complete stop. Both sides of the highway need to come to a stop,” said Wilcox. “Unless there is a dividing median, then they need to stop as well. The only time you can still pass would be if there is some kind of physical barrier between the highway.”
Wilcox says drivers should avoid distractions at all costs.
“Driving, there are always tons of distractions. You’ve got drinks in the car. You’ve got food in the car. Maybe it’s cell phones, all the billboard signs. There’s plenty of distractions when you’re driving,” said Wilcox. “We just want to remind everyone to be on alert, especially when you see a school bus because they do make frequent stops, and you need to be paying attention that way you don’t drive right past them.”
Bryan ISD has rolled out a new app for parents called “Here Comes the Bus” where parents can track their children’s bus and even receive updates to when the bus is arriving.
“The app is designed to help parents know where the bus is located when it’s about to come,” said McDaniel. “Imagine a scenario where the students didn’t have to stand out in the rain or stand out in the cold for long periods of time. It’s kind of our pilot year for the app. We’re going to work to get it going, and hopefully, it will be a success with the parents.”
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