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Monday, August 28

Back to school brings new safety challenges

Most families in the San Antonio area are sending kiddos to back to school today. And, if you're in an area of growth (like the northwest region of San Antonio or Bexar County) it may also be the first day of school for the actual school.
Back to School week always means an increase in traffic - on the roads and on crosswalks. The San Antonio region saw 15 crashes in school zones during 2015 and 683 such crashes state-wide. Most of those crashes were due to driver inattention or speeding.
We do all we can to create a safe route to school zones - on our system or not. We partner with municipalities to develop safe routes and manage traffic. What we cannot do, however, is take the wheel of those doing the actual driving to ensure safety. Since you're the one behind the wheel out there, please keep these major tips in mind:
  • Remain alert - school zones are constantly changing with unpredictable kids (and parents driving them)
  • Put away your cell phone - use of a cell phone is banned in active school zones to start with, and you really shouldn't be using your cell phone while driving anyway (no matter what)
  • Slow down and obey school zone speed limit signs (traffic fines are double in school zones, which are often heavily patrolled by law enforcement)
  • Drop off and pick up children in designated areas only
  • Pay close attention to kids gathered at bus stops and be alert for those who might dart across the street or between vehicles
If you're a pedestrian, you need to pay attention to a few things as well:
  • If walking kids to school, always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks
  • Always walk on sidewalks and obey crossing guards
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street - never assume a driver sees you
  • Wear a helmet when riding bicycles and follow traffic rules
  • Whether driving, walking or riding a bike put the dang phone away and pay close attention to what's happening around you
Don't forget those buses:
  • Drivers must stop for flashing red lights on a school bus, regardless of the direction you're driving
  • Only continue your trip once the stop lights are turned off or the driver motions you to continue
  • Remember passing a school bus when you shouldn't carries a $1,000 fine
The bottom line: just be cool around the school traffic. Be patient and you'll reach your destination just fine.