School bells are about to ring, and that means not only the start of classes, but also the return of school zones and buses on the roads.
Each school has new students arriving for the first time, either on foot, by bicycle or bus, or being dropped off by a parent, and they are learning their way around.
“I would like to remind everyone to be especially careful and patient in the school zones,” said police Sgt. Daryn Briggs.
Briggs said drivers need to watch their speed while in school zones and not pass school buses with flashing red lights.
“The big one is passing a school bus while its red lights are flashing — that starts at $500 a violation,” he said.
Those fines are just the beginning.
The Texas Department of Public Safety announced that beginning Sept. 1, drivers who illegally pass school buses will face even higher fines. The maximum fine for a first offense will increase to $1,250, up from $1,000. For drivers convicted of the same offense more than once, the law already allows DPS to suspend a driver’s license for up to six months.
Officials said a ticket for illegally passing a school bus cannot be dismissed through defensive driving.
“Stopped vehicles may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, the bus driver motions for the vehicle to proceed, or the visual signal is no longer actuated,” Briggs said.
For speeding violations, the amount of the fine depends on how much over the posted limit the driver is traveling. In school zones, violations 1 to 10 mph over the limit start at $250, and can start as high as $327 for a driver clocked going more than 20 mph over.
Starting Monday, Denton police say they’ll have a strong presence in school zones in the mornings and afternoons to remind motorists to get back into the habit of slowing down.
“It’s all about keeping everyone safe,” Briggs said.