School is back in session at Central Florida schools, which means the roads will be full once again with school buses, teenagers driving to and from school, children on bikes, and parents dropping their children off at school. We always recommend drivers be safe on the roads, but during back-to-school time, it is even more important to use extra caution. Here are some important back-to-school driving safety tips to remember for the 2019-2020 school year.
School Drop Off Tips
School parking lots can be chaotic at times, especially when parents are bringing their kids to school and picking them up. It is important to exercise patience when in the parking lot and near the school. Most school zones have their own sets of rules, including no double parking, no loading or unloading children across the street from the school and not interfering or stopping in the drop-off line. Make sure you are aware of all your school’s drop off and pick up procedures.
Be Aware of Pedestrians and School Buses
According to the National Safety Council, most school bus-related fatalities occur to children between the ages of four and seven years old, and these accidents normally happen when children are walking, not riding the bus. They are either struck by a driver who is illegally passing a bus or are struck by the bus. Every year, the media highlights the dangers of passing buses that are stopped and are letting children off, but every year, we hear countless stories of children who are struck and killed by a careless driver who thinks he or she can disregard the law and pass a bus while the lights are flashing.
Never pass a school bus that has its lights flashing and is actively letting children off the bus, it is against the law. In addition, never pass a vehicle that is stopped for a pedestrian. When approaching a school zone where the flashers are blinking, you should always stop and yield to pedestrians that are crossing the intersection or crosswalk.
If you are driving behind a school bus, allow extra time for stopping as soon as the lights go on. Keep a safe distance between yourself and the bus as the children unload and do not start driving until the bus turns off its lights. The 10 feet around a school bus are the most dangerous areas for children, so stay alert and keep your distance.
Use extra caution when driving around a school zone, near playgrounds and parks or in any residential area, especially if you are aware of a bus stop in your neighborhood. Children are not always going to use the best judgment, so you should never assume that they will look out for traffic before crossing a street. As the adult, you can never be too cautious in these situations.
Look Out for Bicyclists
Not only are you sharing the road with increased drivers and pedestrians, but an increased number of children on bikes will also be on the road. It is important that you are aware that bicyclists have the same responsibilities and rights as other vehicles, but this does not mean that children will be aware of those responsibilities. Be extra cautious of bicyclists around you at all times. If you are following a child riding a bicycle, do not assume that child will use signals when turning. Leave extra space between you and the biker, and when exiting your car, make sure you check side mirrors to ensure a bicyclist is not directly beside you.
Texting in School Zones
This July, an important law went into effect regarding the use of handheld wireless devices in school zones. Florida became one of the last states to make texting while driving a primary traffic offense, but on top of that, they also made it illegal to use any handheld wireless device while in a school or construction zone.
The new law regarding the ban on handheld devices in school zones officially goes into effect on October 1, 2019. While technically there will be a warning period for drivers caught using handheld devices in school zones, it is best to start the practice of not using your cell phone while driving. Law enforcement will be able to start issuing tickets when the warning period expires on January 1, 2020.
As parents, we have a responsibility to keep our children safe and always practice safe driving, especially in school zones. Avoid distracted driving behaviors behind the wheel, in Florida it is now the law. Watch for children crossing the street, always obey the speed limit and if you are unsure if a school zone is active, always assume that it is. If your child has suffered a school transportation-related accident, contact our law firm for a free consultation.
The Benenati Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its injury clients and accident victims. In Orlando and throughout Central Florida victims injured in accidents or through negligence need only hit the 7s to reach the personal injury offices of the Benenati Law Firm. Our oath to you is handling your case from start to finish effectively, competently, and aggressively. Allow us the opportunity to give you the personal attention you deserve in your case. You pay us nothing unless we win your case. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at 407-777-7777 for a free legal consultation.
Abogado Hispano con experiencia en juicios sirviendo las necesidades legales de la comunidad de la Florida.