School starts Monday at public schools throughout the state and Anderson County, and motorists are being reminded to monitor their speed and be cognizant of traffic laws.
House Bill 55 which took effect Sept. 1, 2009 makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone unless the vehicle is stopped or a hands-free device is used.
It is a defense to prosecution if the operator was making an emergency call.
Cities or counties wanting to enforce this law must post a sign at the beginning of each school zone to inform drivers that using a wireless communication device is prohibited and that the operator is subject to a fine.
Most — if not all schools in Anderson County — have the proper signage in place to enforce the ‘no cell phone use’ in school zones law.
“If it’s posted,” Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jimmy Johnson reminded area motorists, “it’s a violation of the law to talk on your cell phone.”
Motorists are also reminded to stop when they see the red flashing lights of a school bus. Drivers should proceed with caution when the red lights have been deactivated.
Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said his agency attempts to enforce traffic laws in the Neches, Elkhart and Cayuga school zones when manpower allows such an effort.
The sheriff said it is important for drivers to switch mental gears and realize that school is back in session.
“People get used to not having those flashing signs and, all of the sudden, they’re flashing again,” Taylor said. “People need to realize it’s school time again.”
Johnson said his troopers will be watching school zones a little more closely.
“We’ll be concentrating on that,” Johnson said. “We’re a little stricter when it comes to school zones and kids.”
Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com