Back to school means back to school zones, may cause adjustments to morning commute

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 7:30 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The yellow blinking lights indicating school zones will be blinking once again as Central Texas schools start in the next few weeks. While school has been out for the summer, those blinking lights for school zones have been off too, but, now, Waco PD says its time to start paying attention when passing schools during the next few weeks.

Waco PD public information officer, Cierra Shipley, says that drivers should be aware of schools they pass when commuting to and from work.

“Just make sure that you’re more aware if, you know, you’re driving by a school on your way to work or just your daily drive every day, that you’re probably going to be in a school zone at some point,” she said.

While she says it is important for drivers to slow down and be cautious in school zones, she says it’s also important for pedestrians to be aware too.

“That pedestrian might have the right of way, but if you notice that that car isn’t stopping, maybe don’t go just yet,” Shipley said. “So just make sure that parents teach your kids to always look both ways and make sure that even if they have the right of way, they’re always double checking to make sure it is safe to cross the road.”

Pedestrian activity increases around campuses in the mornings and evenings when school is in session. Shipley also emphasized why drivers should also put their phone away.

“Make sure you’re putting that phone down,” she said. “It’s always better to just drive a little bit slow. If you think that you see someone on the side of the road and you think they might cross in front of you, it’s just always good to make sure just to slow down a little bit. If they are going to cross the road, you can hit your brake and not hit them.”

The fines also double for speeding or looking at your phone when driving in a school zone. The City of Waco Court Fines says the fine for speeding in a school zone is $134. The Texas fine for looking at your phone in a school zone is $200.

Texas Administrative Code says school zones may be 200-1,000 feet in front of a school. Speed limits may drop more than 5 mph depending on the area of town the school is located.

While pedestrian accidents in school zones are not common in Waco, Texas Department of Transportation reported 5,366 pedestrian-related accidents, resulting in 841 deaths in 2021.

“Pedestrian safety is really important because those crashes can cause serious injury, and they could be fatal,” Shipley said. “Of course, we don’t want that to happen here in Waco. It has happened before in the past, and so we just want to make sure that the pedestrians are aware, the drivers are aware, and everyone is ultimately watching out for each other to make sure we’re all safe.”

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