As the new school year begins, Aledo ISD Police Chief Fred Collie, Springtown School Resource Officer Joshua Long and the Texas Department of Public Safety urge people to use extra caution when driving around school zones and buses, and plan ahead for heavily congested areas the first few weeks.
“Drivers should ensure they are aware of and comply with reduced speed limits in all school zones,” Collie said. “Parents and students should understand the traffic patterns at their campuses in order to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and decrease the likelihood of a crash. Please allow extra time as everyone learns the patterns and procedures during the first few weeks.”
Long said there is typically a lot more traffic the first week of school.
“This is because an abundance of people tend to forego the bus the first few days to help familiarize children with the new schools,” Long said.
Drivers should be especially alert and careful around school buses – which make frequent stops – and always follow traffic laws regarding school buses and school zones.
“Motorists who disregard the law and illegally pass stopped school buses put our schoolchildren in harm’s way – and that reckless and irresponsible behavior will not be tolerated by DPS,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said.
Collie said those who violate school traffic laws will pay for them.
“Fines for violating school safety related traffic laws are significant,” Collie said. “For example, in the city of Aledo, the fine for speeding in a school zone is $234.10. The fine for unlawfully passing a school bus while loading is $619 and the fine for talking on a mobile phone in a school zone is $299.10.”
The moments when students are entering or exiting the bus can be one of the most dangerous times during a child’s trip on a school bus. Accordingly, DPS reminds drivers to reduce speed and be aware that children may unexpectedly step into a roadway without checking for oncoming traffic.
State law requires that 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. Approaching drivers do not have to stop for a school bus that is operating a visual signal if the roadway is separated by a physical barrier or an intervening space.
As a reminder, school buses, by law, must stop at all railroad crossings.
“We have both patrol and (School Resource Officers) patrolling school zones in the morning and afternoon,” Long said about Springtown ISD. “Expect a larger presence the first few days of school to account for extra traffic.”
Collie said Aledo ISD will also have a full-time police presence on each campus this year to assist with traffic control and ensure the safety of all students during morning arrivals and afternoon dismissals.
“Please be patient, the start of the school year often comes with additional traffic congestion, so please plan accordingly for potential delays,” Collie said. “Slow down, put your cell phone away, pay attention to your surroundings, and prepare for the unexpected. Finally, know that the train can and will cross through Aledo at the worst time possible, so please plan ahead.”
Collie said anyone aware of an immediate traffic hazard should call 911 and report it. All non-emergency issues or concerns can be reported to Collie at FCollie@aledoisd.org or by calling 817-441-5147.