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Local police talk school safety driving tips: “Using your cell phone certainly won’t help”

The start of the 2019-2020 school year is right around the corner, signaling changes to traffic patterns, more school buses on the road and lowered speed limits.

And some things may require a little patience.

“Expect to wait in line longer due to people unfamiliar with the school traffic,” Port Arthur Police Det. Sadie Guedry said. “Have patience and slow down.”

Guedry asked that motorists expect some delays, especially in the first few weeks of school as people adjust to school times.

Also be cognizant of the traffic patterns around schools. Some, like Tyrrell and Sam Houston, have one-way streets during certain hours.

“Know the times,” she said.

It’s also important to know where to drop-off and where to pick-up your child. Nederland Police Chief Gary Porter said parents could find this information when they register their child for school.

“The first day of school can be stressful for everybody and when you’re under a little bit of stress you tend to pay less attention,” Porter said. “Pay attention to get students to and from school safe and using your cell phone certainly won’t help.”

If you are unfamiliar with the school, Porter suggests making a practice run, see where the drop-off and pick-up points are and that will be one less thing to worry about when getting the kids to and from school.

People also need to be cautious of the speed limit in school zones.

“We will have extra officers in school zones until further notice,” he said. “A police officer will be in every school zone to make sure people stay within the speed limit in the school zone. The last thing we want to see is someone get a ticket for speeding in a school zone.”

Another safety tip is aimed at the students.

“Tell your kids, if they step around a vehicle, no one can see you,” he said. “You have to look and make sure no vehicles are coming. There is no way for a driver to see you if you come out from behind a vehicle or from between two vehicles.”

Also, be aware of school buses on the road. Texas law requires all drivers to stop when a bus stops and extends its stop signs to let students on or off the bus.

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine said motorists and students need to pay attention.

The first few days of school will be busy — there will be parents dropping off their little ones for their first day of school who will park, walk to the school and take photos. Understand that there will be a lot of extra cars in school zones.

“And it goes without saying there are distractions by cell phones and it’s not just the driver, it’s also the kids that are walking and looking at their phones.”

There will be more kids on the road, on the sides of the road, bicycles and buses — slow down and watch out, he said.

“Try to leave early, expect a lot of delays and expect a lot of traffic,” Lemoine said. “Patience, patience, use patience.”