Back to school, back to traffic safety zones
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As the sun sets on kids' summer fun, strict rules of the road reappear for drivers.

Schools across the Texas Panhandle begin in coming weeks, with classes starting Wednesday (Aug. 15) for districts including Amarillo, Canyon, Dalhart, Dumas and Tulia ISDs.

Classes begin Thursday (Aug. 16) for Childress and Clarendon ISDs, on Monday (Aug. 20) in Dimmitt and Panhandle, Tuesday (Aug. 21) in Pampa, and as late as Monday, Aug. 27 in Borger.

That means school safety zones and the fines associated with violating them also go back into effect as children walk to and from schools and fleets of buses and parents join traffic flow twice daily.

Law enforcement across the region are issuing several reminders:

•  School zone speed limits are 20 mph; lower in some cases

•  Use of cellphone in a school zone can mean a fine of up to $200

•  Overtaking a school bus stopped to pick up children is a $1,000 fine, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Law enforcement across the region will patrol and monitor school zones.

The following are driving tips for school zones from TxDOT:

Driving to/near schools

  • Put away your cell phone. Cell phone use is banned in active school zones.
  • 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.

Children walking/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.



Mike Smith is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. Contact him at, on Twitter at @newsmithm and on Facebook.