Schools open: DPS urging motorists to be cautious

Published on Sunday, 24 August 2014 23:24 - Written by KENNETH DEAN kdean@tylerpaper.com

Summer is over for many East Texas children and today marks the first day back to school, which means motorists need to pay attention to school zones, school crossings and bus stops.

Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Jeanne Dark said her agency along with all law enforcement will be paying special attention to school zones and crossings to ensure the students’ safety.

“Many of us have children in school so we are going to be out there and watching these areas,” she said.

Trooper Dark said law enforcement also will be looking for motorists failing to stop for buses stopping to pick up children or those who go around a stopped bus that is loading.

Tyler Police Department Public Information Officer Don Martin said the no cellphone in a school zone while operating a motor vehicle has now been expanded to include vehicles on school property that are in motion while the school zone lights are flashing.

“If you are pulled over waiting to pick your child up then you can be on your phone, but if you are moving anywhere on any school campus and talking on the phone then you are in violation,” he said.

Fines vary from city to city, but a cellphone violation — talking or texting — can cost a motorist $200 in Tyler with added court costs and passing a school bus can net you a $1,000 fine.

Speeding in a school zone can also be costly and last year in Tyler, officers issued 2,585 citations for the infraction.

Martin said motorists just need to be aware that school is back and officers will be out watching for violators.

Authorities also are reminding motorists to remember small children in the car as the newness of the school routine may differ from the typical summer routine. A child left in a vehicle can quickly succumb to heat and die as a result.