Texas School Zones
When school is in session, drivers approaching Texas schools may encounter some special traffic hazards. First of all, large numbers of children may be present, often walking to and from the school building on foot. Secondly, at the beginning and end of the school day, the streets surrounding the school are often clogged with school buses and the cars of the student’s parents.
Therefore, drivers need to give Texas school zones special attention in order to drive defensively. Also, there are special speed limits and traffic laws that apply near school zones during mornings and afternoons.
Texas Speed Limits
In Texas, speed limits are posted on every road to advise drivers of the appropriate speed to drive. In many cases, Texas speed limits match those that are set by the state in the Transportation code, § 545.352. For example, the default state speed limit inside a city or town is 30 miles per hour for a normal street and 25 miles per hour in an alley. Outside urban areas, the speed limit is 70 miles per hour on a numbered highway and 60 MPH on an unnumbered highway or any other type of rural road.
Texas law also gives the Texas Transportation Commission, local counties and municipalities the right to alter these default speed limits based upon local needs and conditions. Usually, a reasonable speed for the road is established based upon an engineering and traffic study that determines what speed feels reasonable and comfortable for the majority of drivers. However, in the case of Texas school crossing zone, the speed can be reduced to a minimum of 15 miles per hour in certain circumstances. Even on highways, a school speed limit is usually no more than 35 miles per hour. If the regular speed limit is over 55 MPH or more, there has to be a “buffer zone” to give people time to slow down to 35 MPH.
Fines for Speeding in a School Crossing Zone
Most drivers don’t like to slow down for Texas school zones, although they would probably feel differently if they were in an accident and a child was hurt. In order to make sure that drivers recognize the importance of obeying the school zone speed limits, Texas has imposed increased fines and court costs on drivers caught speeding in school zones. At the very least, there is an extra $25 court cost added on to the cost of your ticket. This money is collected and used to fund school crossing guard programs and other programs related to child safety.
In addition to the court cost, fines for a Texas school crossing zone ticket can vary based on what city, county or municipality you receive a ticket. For example, if you are ticketed for speeding in a school zone in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, fines start at over $200 for speeding 1-5 MPH above the posted speed limit and well over $300 if speeding more than 30 MPH.
Cell Phones are Prohibited While Driving Through a School Zone
Texas school zone law, under HB 347, prevents using a cell phone when driving through an active school crossing zone. This includes property of a public elementary, middle, or junior high school for which a local authority has designated a school crossing zone. Exempt from this law, are vehicles that are stopped, drivers using hands free devices, or making a call to emergency services such as police, medical, fire or other first responders.
Importance of Child Safety
No matter where you get stopped, speeding in a Texas school crossing zone is expensive. The life of a child is priceless and not worth the risk by speeding through a school zone. Children are more vulnerable than adults to being hit by a car. They tend to be less cautious than adults, are less visible due to size and less likely to survive a hit by a vehicle, than an adults.
When approaching a school zone, slow down. Law enforcement frequently monitor school zones and will show no mercy for speeding drivers. The few seconds you may save speeding through a school zone is not worth the fine, but more importantly, it’s not worth the life a a child.