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Back to School Safety – On the Road and In the Classroom

August is when children begin to head back to school and it is also recognized as Child Safety Awareness month. This awareness initiative reminds motorists to drive safely on Florida roads as children once again not only travel on school buses, but also are very close to roads and traffic on their bikes and using cross walks.

Safety on the Road

“Keeping children safe as they travel to and from school within vehicles, on bikes, or on foot is everyone’s duty,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Trends in the department’s data are heartbreaking and it is critical for adults to demonstrate safe driving behaviors to help reduce the amount of tragic incidents that occur on our roadways.”

In 2018, there were 130,055 children age 0 to 17 involved in a crash in Florida resulting in 1,438 serious bodily injuries and 155 fatalities. As children travel to and from school, motorists must ensure they arrive safely by obeying school zone speed limits, remaining attentive around child pedestrians and bicyclists, and properly stopping for school buses.

In 2018, there were
3,177 school bus
crashes in Florida.

Starting October 1, 2019, the Wireless Communications While Driving Law prohibits the use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner while driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area. The law provides for enforcement only by a warning for this section from October 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019, after which a person may be issued a citation. Violators commit a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation, that includes a base $60 fine, not including court costs or other fees, and will have 3 points assessed against their driver license.

“DCF is committed to protecting children year-round, but we are especially proud to partner with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles during Child Safety Awareness Month,” said Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell. “Together, we can bring awareness to this important topic, ensuring our children are given the opportunity to succeed and make meaningful contributions to Florida’s bright future.”

Safety Traveling to and from School

1. Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards.

2. Walk the route with your child beforehand. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.

3. Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust.

4. Be sure your child walks to and from school with a sibling, friend, or neighbor.

5. Teach your kids whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school to obey all traffic signals, signs and traffic officers. Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.

6. When driving kids, deliver and pick them up as close to the school as possible. Don’t leave until they are in the schoolyard or building.

7. If your child bikes to school, make sure he wears a helmet that meets one of the safety standards (U.S. CPSC, Snell, ANSI, ASTM, or Canadian). Research indicates that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.

8. If your child rides a scooter to school, make sure she wears sturdy shoes, a helmet, kneepads and elbow pads. Children under age 12 should not ride motorized scooters, according to recent recommendations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

9. Teach children to arrive at the bus stop early, stay out of the street, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching the street, watch for cars and avoid the driver’s blind spot.

10. Remind your children to stay seated at all times and keep their heads and arms inside the bus while riding. When exiting the bus, children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, exit from the front using the handrail to avoid falls and cross the street at least 10 feet (or 10 giant steps) in front of the bus.

11. Tell your child not to bend down in front of the bus to tie shoes or pick up objects, as the driver may not see him before starting to move.

12. Be sure that your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies.

Preventing Accidents at School
Research shows school-age children are actually nine times more likely to sustain an unintentional injury—whether on the playground or in school—than to be the victim of violence while at school. In fact, an estimated 2.2 million children ages 14 and under are injured in school-related accidents each year, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Number one, is to avoid common school sports injuries as well as playground injuries.
Know Your Child’s Environment
• Talk to your children and reinforce the rules of stranger danger.
• Make sure not to pack foods for lunch or snacks that spoil quickly.
• Talk to your child about bullies and bullying. Explain to them what to do if a situation arises.
• Volunteer at your child’s school
• Create a family culture of trust and no secrets at home
• Teach your child common sense survival tips

If your child has been the victim of a bus or school related accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Instead, put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve.

Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law, P.A., a Pensacola Personal Injury law firm, has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer. For more information, visit:

11 E Romana Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Telephone: 850-444-9299


How to Keep Kids Safe at School