San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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September 10th, 2008
SMCISD Transportation Department Partners with SMPD Motorcycle Units for Street and School Bus Safety

Representatives from the San Marcos CISD Transportation Department met last week with Sergeant Martin Manzi who heads the expanded Motorcycle Unit of the San Marcos Police Department to discuss traffic “hot spots” throughout the community. The City of San Marcos rolled out the new police motorcycles in mid-August 2008 with the primary role of making city streets safer by improving traffic enforcement. Of particular concern are school zones and neighborhoods. The motorcycle officers will work all SMCISD school zones in the morning and afternoons, and patrol neighborhoods at other times. Additionally, motorists illegally passing school buses will be a target.Attending the meeting on behalf of the school District were Ernest Martinez (Associate Director of Transportation), Juan Velez (Safety Coordinator), and Richard Sanchez (Safety Training Coordinator). The SMCISD team provided Sgt. Manzi a detailed list of all the school zones and the school zone speed limit sign locations. They also gave Manzi the areas of greatest concern pertaining to motorist who do not stop for school buses loading and unloading children. The focus group narrowed the areas to get the first attention as IH-35 access roads, Aquarena Springs Road, Highway 21, and Wonder World Drive near the Central Texas Medical Center.

Martinez said, “The school district’s hope is that these motorcycle patrolmen will provide visibility and repetition over a long period of time. If the community sees that these officers are concerned enough about our kids to be at the school zones and the bus stops on a routine basis, we hope that they slow down to observe posted speeds and watch for stopped school buses that are loading and unloading.”

The SMCISD team reiterated that a continuing problem appears to be a lack of knowledge about when motorists should stop for school buses. Safety Training Coordinator Sanchez said in an average year, about 25 school children across the nation are killed in school bus accidents and that “one-third of these are struck by motorists who fail to stop for the school bus.”

A synopsis of the law about stopping for a loading and unloading school bus is:

  • State law requires approaching drivers to stop when a school bus is stopped and operating a visual sign such as the red flashing light and/or a stop sign;
  • Drivers should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion and the visual sign is no longer activated;
  • If a highway is divided only by a left turning lane and the roadways are not separated by a physical barrier, drivers must stop for all school buses. A “rule of thumb” applies to all roads which do not have driving medians or barriers, and it applies no matter how many lanes the road has.
  • Drivers who do not stop for school buses face a fine up to $1,000. If a driver is convicted of this offense more than one time, the DPS can suspend their license for up to six months.
  • DPS has a zero tolerance for vehicles that pass stopped school buses.

“The part about divided highways is important,” Martinez said. “Unless there is a physical barrier such as a grassy median or an obvious barrier between ongoing and outgoing lanes, all lanes must stop for a stopped school bus with a flashing red light and a displayed stop sign. Center turn lanes are not considered barriers.”

The SMPD motorcycles are equipped with radar and laser speed detection equipment. Sgt. Manzi said that the mission of the special Motorcycle Unit is “to educate and to enforce,” adding that “the Unit is the face of our department throughout the San Marcos community.”
Public Information Officer – San Marcos CISD

To download a pdf of the poster both in English and Spanish, click here.

Sergeant Martin Manzi talks with Richard Sanchez and Juan Velez of SMCISD Transportation Dept.

Officer Delton Duggins of SMPD Motorcycle Unit (Courtesy photo from SMPD)

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