Students Lack Knowledge of Traffic Laws

From The Battalion

By Stuart Womack

Published: Friday, February 24, 2006

Misconceptions over traffic laws and right-of-way have some students at Texas A&M putting themselves in dangerous positions both on and off campus.

Students take unnecessary risks when exiting campus buses, said Rodney Weis, director of Transportation Services.

"The most common misconception is that pedestrians always have the right-of-way, no matter what the situation, and those vehicles will stop for pedestrians no matter where they are," Weis said. "State laws are fairly specific in terms of rights-of-way for pedestrians."

Although the law states traffic must stop when a yellow school bus stops to unload passengers, no such law exists regarding campus buses, Weis said.

"The same traffic laws that apply to all vehicles on the road apply to transit coaches of the type we use," Weis said. "There is no state law that requires a motorist to stop for a transit vehicle that is loading or unloading."

Texas A&M developed a College Traffic Safety Program in 2002, according to the Traffic Safety Digest. College-aged individuals are the highest of all groups associated with traffic collisions, according to the University Police Department.

Measures are being taken to ensure students' safety, Weis said.

"We are currently formulating new operating policies for bus drivers and are developing a public awareness campaign to better inform our passengers and raise their awareness levels to the dangers of crossing in front of a bus," Weis said.

The Texas Statutes Transportation Code states that a pedestrian should yield the right-of-way to all vehicles if crossing the road at any place other than a marked crosswalk. The code also states that a vehicle may not pass another vehicle that is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross.

"Crosswalks are meant to channel pedestrian traffic," said Kyle Johnson, a senior wildlife & fishery sciences major. "If there isn't a crosswalk, you should at least look both ways. You can't just walk out into the middle of the street and not expect any consequences."

Nothing can protect a student more than always being aware of their surroundings, Weis said.

"Never assume that the vehicle operator sees you, and never assume that the vehicle operator will stop for you," he said. "Even a crosswalk will not protect you if the driver doesn't see you.