The Texas Department of Public Safety reminds drivers that they must stop for school buses that are loading or unloading.

School Bus Safety Week runs Oct. 20 to 24, and this year’s theme: “Avoid Harm, Obey the Stop Arm” calls attention to Texas state law, which requires drivers to stop when school buses are stopped and have activated their alternating red flashing lights or stop sign.

Drivers face fines of up to $1,000, plus court costs if they are convicted.

“Texas state law requires drivers to stop for school buses that are stopped and have activated their alternating red flashing lights.

Drivers should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion; the driver is signaled by the bus driver to proceed, or the visual signal is no longer activated,” said Col. Stan Clark, interim director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

If a road is divided only by a left-turning lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses with alternating red flashing lights activated. However, if the lanes are separated by an intervening space or physical barrier, only motorists going in the same direction as the bus are required to stop. In neighborhoods, near schools, and at bus stops, drivers need to take special care because in most cases children cannot judge vehicle speed or distance.

“Our children are precious, and it’s up to all drivers to ensure their safety,” Clark said.

School buses remain one of the safest modes of transportation in Texas: 38,000 school buses transport 1.5 million Texas children every school day. School buses account for less than one-half of one percent of all Texas roadway crashes. In 2006 and 2007, 689 crashes involving school buses were reported to law enforcement in Texas, and DPS troopers wrote 633 traffic citations to motorists who either failed to stop or failed to remain stopped for school buses that were legally stopped.

DPS encourages school districts across the state to plan special events to observe School Bus Safety Week, which also recognizes the hard work and dedication of school transportation professionals, especially school bus drivers, who are trained to ensure a safe journey for students every day. Parents are urged to get acquainted with their school district’s transportation coordinator and school bus driver.