All of the schools throughout Central Florida are back in session. Everyday hundreds of thousands of children are waiting for buses, walking on our sidewalks, and crossing streets. Not to mention there is a whole new batch of teenage drivers getting ready to get behind the wheel. The importance of safe driving is heightened during the morning and afternoon hours when these children are traveling to and from school.
So far the 2014-2015 school year has been a safe one. There have been no reported incidents or accidents related to children traveling to/from school. However, across the nation, some communities have suffered tragic accidents. In Montgomery, Alabama, a middle school child was severely injured when they tried to cross a street that had the green light, even after motorists warned the child not to cross until the light turned red.
In an effort to prevent any tragic back-to-school accidents here in Central Florida, we’re providing some tips and reminders for your morning and afternoon commute:
- Make sure you know where the school zones are located. Familiarize yourself with the local school zones and when the reduced speed limit is effective. Consider expanding the school zone if you notice children walking to/from school. For example, if you live in a neighborhood where children walk or bike a mile from the school, consider driving slower when you see children around.
- Let the children cross first. Even though you may be in a hurry to get to work or on a normal day you barely stop at the stop sign, wait the extra minute if a child is present. Many children are riding bikes or scooters to school these days. Unfortunately, many times they cannot stop or do not look both ways before crossing. If you approach an intersection and you see a child, make the smart choice: come to a complete stop and wave the child to cross. Make sure they safely crossed the street before continuing.
- Put your cell phone away near schools. We all know that texting and driving on the open road is dangerous, however that dangerous increases when you are driving near a school and hundreds of children are around. Pay attention and limit the distractions in your car. Children could come running into the street at any given moment, if you are not distracted you may be able to respond quickly to avoid a deadly accident.
- Respect School Buses. Make sure you do not follow too closely behind a school bus. They make frequent and unexpected stops, allow for a safe distance behind the bus so you can safely brake. Do not pass a school bus that is stopped for pick-up/drop-off of students. Many times children will come from behind or in front of the bus and cross the street unannounced. If you see the flashing red lights, stop. Even though you may be on a four-lane divided highway, use caution and pay attention for school children. The best decision is to stop or slow down to prevent any accidents.
We wish all students and parents a successful school year, free from any unfortunate accidents. If you follow basic driving safety, pay attention, put down the cell phones, and slow down on your morning and afternoon commute, we can protect the lives of our bright students.