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Back to School Safety

To the delight (and some dismay) of millions of students and parents, the school season is about to begin. Students across America will be headed back to school over the next couple of weeks. That means more road congestion and traffic pattern shifts, big yellow school buses, kids on bikes, and children walking on sidewalks, in crosswalks, and at roadway intersections. We all need to be ready to share the road and help keep these kids safe.

Some Unsettling Back to School Statistics:

  • According to a Florida Department of Education survey conducted in April 2012, more than 21,000 drivers illegally passed school buses on a one-day survey.
  • According to a study by SafeKids.org, 61 children are hit by cars every day in the United States, most often during the hours before and after school, and peaking in September.
  • More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program.
  • According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.
  • According to a 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, since 2000, 1,386 people have died in school transportation-related crashes— an average of 139 fatalities per year.

Here are some important safety tips for drivers from the Safety Council of Palm Beach County and Broward.org:

Bus Safety

  • Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended.
  • The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop, is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic.
  • Motorists should be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses, and in school parking lots.
  • Remember, Stop on Red, kids ahead!

While Driving

  • The driver and all passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
  • Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Comply with local school drop-off and pick-up procedures.
  • Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving.