EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Slow down and watch out. School buses and other vehicles are rolling this morning as school bells ring throughout East Texas.
Motorists are reminded to look out for school zones and be prepared to reduce your speed or stop. Traffic officers will also be watching for those who are using cell phones in school zones to talk or text, which is against the law in Texas. A ticket could cost you almost $300, or worse, it could cost someone their life.
Law enforcement officers say it is a good time for parents to remind their kids not to accept rides from strangers.
Be careful with back packs. Make sure you do not overload your child to avoid back problems. Back packs should have wide shoulder straps and should not weigh more than 10-15 percent of your child's body weight.
In Lufkin, residents and motorists alike will need to pay close attention when you travel near Slack Elementary and Burley Primary. Neighbors described summer traffic as "horrendous" and the additional school traffic is not expected to make things better.
A road construction project is underway with the main road to the two neighboring schools right in the middle. Traffic officers say plan for delays and leave early.
From Fuller Springs Drive, the city is putting in a turn lane starting at Chestnut. When it's complete, cars picking up students at Slack and Burley schools can line up in the turn lane without blocking the main lanes. Until the whole project is complete, parents and guardians will need to follow city detours.
Starting Monday, those coming to Burley, will need to turn onto Joyce Lane from Hwy 69 south, then turn left onto Fuller Springs Drive. Joyce Lane will be a one-way street from the hours of 7:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
To get to Slack, take Chestnut, turn onto Bartmess, and a left on Fuller Springs Drive will take you to Slack's circle drive. Then leave the way you came because the rest of Fuller Springs will still be under construction.
"It's going to be rather confusing," Lufkin Police Department Sgt. David Walker said. "It's going to be really congested and also we're going to have children on the streets, so you just have to pay attention to what's going on."
The entire Fuller Springs Drive project should be completed by April of 2012.
KTRE Meteorologist Brad Hlozek says it is going to be a hot first day of school. Heat advisories are in effect. Most areas will see highs between 101 and 103 degrees today with heat index values at or above 105 degrees. There will be a few isolated thunderstorms this afternoon, but, unfortunately, most areas again will remain dry.
Check back here at KTRE.com to see how the first day of school goes for area schools.
On a lighter note, KTRE is asking that you send your first day of school pictures to us. We want to see your children's back-to-school photos! First, post them on the KTRE-TV Facebook page. Next, go encourage your friends to vote for those photos by "liking" them on this page. The photo with the most likes will be featured on our show at 5 on Monday! Of course, you're welcome to "like" any photo you want.