LUBBOCK, Texas — The school year has kicked into gear for students around Lubbock and crossing guards are reminding drivers to pay extra attention when driving through school zones so kids can safely walk to and from school.

In 2022, there were 746 traffic crashes in Texas school zones. 23 of those crashes caused serious injuries, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Most of those crashes were caused by drivers not paying attention, failing to yield the right of way or speeding.

Crossing guard at Miller Elementary School, Michael Zauner said he’s seen a lot of these traffic violations in his four years as a crossing guard there.

“I see a lot of texting, I see speeding and I see kids that aren’t belted into their seats, unfortunately. So those are probably the three big things I see,” Zauner said. That’s not a good thing anywhere, but especially not in a school zone.”

Zauner said he does his best to get kids across the school’s main crosswalk safely. He’ll even step out in front of a car if he has to.

“I’ve had to step in front of the car to stop them, so they don’t hit a child. I have words with [the driver]. Sometimes they’re not very happy with that. But … I have to raise my voice to be heard so they can stop,” Zauner said.

Zauner asks that drivers slow down, put their phones down and look out for kids when they are in a school zone. The fine for speeding in a school zone could cost $240 dollars or more and if drivers are caught using their cell phone while driving in a school zone, they could be fined $200 or more.

However, more than the cost of tickets people could face for violations, Zauner wants the kids to be safe, especially because their laughter and jokes are the best part of his job.

“The little kids here … they’re funny at this age, just some of the comments are just hilarious – so I really enjoy that,” Zauner said.

The kids also enjoy Zauner’s presence and even call him “Mr. Mike.” Most parents and kids recognize him and wave hello to the crossing guard while they cross the street.

“My kids know him by first name basis. He’s just a great way to start off the day walking to school,” John Gardner, a parent of two Miller Elementary School students said about Zauner.

Zauner said it’s important to him that he’s at the cross walk every morning and afternoon to make sure the kids are safe.