When school is in session, more than a million children and teens depend on buses to get them safely to and from over 9,000 Texas schools every day. They also depend on motorists to know the law and drive safely around school buses.
In 2013, 625 vehicle crashes occurred in school zones in Texas, resulting in two deaths and 112 serious injuries. August and September of 2013 alone saw 104 crashes in school zones. The most common factors contributing to these crashes were driver inattention, failure to control speed and failure to yield the right-of-way at stop signs.
Following these simple tips can help Texas children reach school safely and help drivers avoid costly fines and tickets.
Tips for Driving in School Zones
Put away your cell phone. Cell phone use is banned in active school zones, and violators face fines of up to $200 in school zones where signs are posted.
Always obey school zone speed limit signs. Remember, traffic fines usually double in school zones.
Drop off and pick up your children in your school’s designated areas, not the middle of the street.
Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.
Be alert for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles on their way to school.
Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School
Always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks. Look left, right and then left again before proceeding.
Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked cars.
Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
Always obey crossing guards.
Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
Texas School Bus Law
Stop for flashing red lights on a school bus, regardless of which direction you're headed.
Continue your trip once the bus has moved, the flashing lights stop flashing or the bus driver signals it's okay to pass.
Violations can lead to a $1,000 fine.
Safety Tips for Motorists
Obey the posted speed limit.
Fines double in school zones.
Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.
Watch for children who might dart across the street to catch the bus.
Tips for Students
Respect your school bus driver and follow these rules:
Stand far back when you are waiting for the bus.
Sit still so the driver can pay attention to the road.
Look both ways if you have to cross the street after getting off the bus, or wait for the driver to signal it's safe to cross the street.
1. Teach your child to call 9-1-1 from all of the phones in your home. The house phone, also known as a landline, is a phone that plugs into the wall. House phones display the billing address when 9-1-1 is dialed. Cell phones do not provide the location information, so children using a cell phone to call 9-1-1 for an emergency should know their home address or location when calling 9-1-1.
2. Children ages 4-7 should know their home address AND the address of their caregiver. The caregiver should place their home address and phone number on the refrigerator, or another easily visible location, and show the child where this information is located. Follow up with your child’s caregiver to assure this important information is available and has been discussed with your child.
3. Tell your child that if they have to call 9-1-1 they must listen carefully to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. Your child should not hang up with the 9-1-1 dispatcher unless prompted to do so by the dispatcher. The dispatcher will provide your child with directions throughout the call and will likely stay on the line with your child until emergency responders arrive at their location.
4. Practice calling 9-1-1 at home with an unplugged or toy telephone. As a parent or caregiver, you can pretend being the 9-1-1 dispatcher by asking questions like:
9-1-1. Do you need Police, Fire, or EMS?
What is the address of the emergency?
What is the phone number you are calling from?
Tell me exactly what happened…What is your emergency?
Are you with the patient now?
Is the patient awake? Is the patient breathing?
These are important questions that need to be answered. Practicing these kinds of questions allows kids to memorize their address, phone number, and teaches them how to listen to the questions they will be asked by the 9-1-1 dispatcher and to follow instructions given.
5. Make certain that younger children can clearly state their first and last name. 9-1-1 dispatchers will use your child’s name when speaking to them during the course of the call to assure, calm, and encourage them.
6. Teach your child when to call 9-1-1. This is the time to discuss what may cause an emergency at your home, and what your child should do during an emergency at your home, or at a caregiver’s home. Parents and caregivers need to assess their emergency plans and practice those plans with all family members. Emergency plans should include teaching children how and when to call 9-1-1.
7. Teach children not to call 9-1-1 as a joke or a prank. It’s important for children to understand what a real emergency is. Calling 9 -1-1 as a joke wastes precious time and ties up resources that should be directed towards real emergencies.
Protect your newborn. Austin-Travis County EMS provides FREESafe Baby Academy classes every month. Austin-Travis County EMS warns parents and caretakers not to sleep with their babies, or use blankets to keep them warm, as these are serious risk factors for suffocation.
Safe Baby Academy teaches parents that safety for sleeping babies is simple and as easy as A-B-C. Babies should sleep:
Alone: Bed-sharing, which is sleeping with a baby on a bed, couch, floor or in a chair, is dangerous. Babies should sleep alone, not with an adult, child or animal. Room sharing with a baby is a better way to sleep near your little one.
On their Back: Not on their side or tummy. Place babies on their back for every sleep time, including naps and at night.
In a safety-approved Crib: Put babies on a firm surface, preferably a safety-approved crib with a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Do not use bumper pads, pillows, blankets, sheep skins, soft objects, toys or stuffed animals anywhere in your baby’s sleep area. (Safety approved bassinets; play yards and portable cribs are acceptable).
Safe Baby Academy also instructs parents on the principles and recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Room-sharing without bed-sharing is recommended—There is evidence that this arrangement decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.5,7,30,31 In addition, this arrangement is most likely to prevent suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment that might occur when the infant is sleeping in an adult bed.
The infant's crib, portable crib, play yard, or bassinet should be placed in the parents' bedroom close to the parents' bed. This arrangement reduces SIDS risk and removes the possibility of suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment that might occur when the infant is sleeping in the adults' bed. It also allows close parental proximity to the infant and facilitates feeding, comforting, and monitoring of the infant.
Devices promoted to make bed-sharing “safe” (eg, in-bed co-sleepers) are not recommended.
Infants may be brought into the bed for feeding or comforting but should be returned to their own crib or bassinet when the parent is ready to return to sleep.6,32 Because of the extremely high risk of SIDS and suffocation on couches and armchairs,3,5,6,31,32 infants should not be fed on a couch or armchair when there is a high risk that the parent might fall asleep.
Epidemiologic studies have not demonstrated any bed-sharing situations that are protective against SIDS or suffocation. Furthermore, not all risks associated with bed-sharing, such as parental fatigue, can be controlled. Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend any specific bed-sharing situations as safe. Moreover, there are specific circumstances that, in epidemiologic studies, substantially increase the risk of SIDS or suffocation while bed-sharing. In particular, it should be stressed to parents that they avoid the following situations at all times:
Bed-sharing when the infant is younger than 3 months, regardless of whether the parents are smokers or not.5,7,31,–,34
Bed-sharing with a current smoker (even if he or she does not smoke in bed) or if the mother smoked during pregnancy.5,6,34,–,36
Bed-sharing with someone who is excessively tired.
Bed-sharing with someone who has or is using medications (eg, certain antidepressants, pain medications) or substances (eg, alcohol, illicit drugs) that could impair his or her alertness or ability to arouse.7,37
Bed-sharing with anyone who is not a parent, including other children.3