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The Tom Green County Sheriff's Office has implemented a community action plan in which uniform deputies occasionally ride on area school buses to notify other deputies in marked units of any violations made by drivers such as passing the school bus when unsafe or passing a school bus while the stop sign is extended and red lights are active. Enforcement action is subsequently taken by the deputy in the marked patrol unit.

In Texas, drivers must stop for flashing red lights on a school bus, regardless of which direction the vehicle is traveling, unless a physical barrier divides the road lanes. Violators can receive up to a $1,250 fine, driver's license suspension, and even jail time, depending on the number of convictions and the seriousness of the incident. Knowing the flashing-light system that school bus drivers use to signal their intentions to motorists can save lives.

• Yellow flashing lights. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus
is getting ready to stop to load or unload students. Drivers
should slow down and prepare to stop.

• Red flashing lights. Red flashing lights with an extended
stop sign means the bus is stopped and students are getting
on or off. Drivers approaching the school bus from either
direction must stop, even if the road is divided by a turning
lane unless a median or other physical barrier such as a
wall or fence separates the road lanes. Vehicles may not
pass the school bus until the red lights stop flashing, the
extended stop sign is pulled back into place, the school bus
has started to move, and the bus driver signals for vehicles
to proceed.

Several operations have already been conducted this year and more are planned. It is the goal of the TGSO to gain voluntary compliance with these school bus laws and increase the safety of students and drivers on all school buses in Tom Green County.

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