It is the middle of August, and everybody should know what that means; back to school. Anna school district returned back to school Aug 14, and with more than 2,500 students in Anna, it is getting harder to watch out for students going to or leaving the schools. Every school has buffer areas known as school zones — an area around the school that is near a crosswalk with reduced speeds to keep the younger pedestrians safe.


The fine for speeding through a school zone averages around $224 for only going 5 miles over the suggested limit, increasing every 5 miles that the driver was over. Last year, 663 car crashes happened in a school zone, resulting in 21 serious injuries, TxDOT.gov reports.


In Austin for the first week of the 2016 school year, more than 300 speeding tickets were issued in the school zones due to inattention, KXAN news reported. Austin is a far cry from Anna and Melissa, of course, but it is possible to reach numbers that high during the first few weeks of school.


Anna High School is located on W. Rosamond Parkway, and the middle school is on N. Powell Parkway. These 2 locations can be troublesome because they are both located on or near Highway 5. Joe K. Bryant is located on Bryant Farm Rd. However, it is off 371, drivers may tend to speed due to being a country road. Sue E. Rattan is off Ferguson Parkway, and that is off FM 455.


The Melissa Independent School District will have their 1,400 students returning on Aug 28. All 4 schools are located in residential areas off Highway 5. Harry McKillop Elementary is located on Liberty Way, Melissa Ridge Intermediate is on W. Fannin Rd, Melissa Middle School and High School are both off Cardinal Dr.


Even though all the schools are in residential areas, it does not mean it is less of a safety hazard for the students. A national survey found that two-thirds of drivers exceed the posted speed limit during the 30-minute period before and after school, Edmunds.com stated.


School zones are not the only safety concerns for the community’s younger population. Some drivers tend to pass a school bus while it is loading or unloading students.


“Automated photo enforcement measures found that 78 percent of drivers speed in school zones and 82 percent of drivers passed a school bus illegally,” Edmunds.com reported.


When a vehicle is approaching a stopped school bus from either direction to receive or discharge a student, the operator must stop before reaching the school bus and may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion; per Section 547.701 of the Texas Transportation code.


The fines for illegally passing a school bus tend to be a little heftier. The Texas Transportation code lists a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,250 for the 1st offense. If a 2nd offense occurs within 5 years of the original infraction, the fine could jump to $2,000. A driver could face jail time or a driver’s license revocation if the speeding causes bodily injury.