As the 2023-24 school year begins, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and AAA advise drivers to be cautious around schools and buses.
With the start of the new school year, approximately 2.8 million children in Florida are heading to their classrooms, and the combination of young, inexperienced drivers, walkers, and bicyclists who will all share the road in the early morning and afternoon hours is especially perilous, according to AAA.
In 2021, 64% of child pedestrians killed in automobile accidents happened during the week from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Friday, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to AAA, nearly one in every four fatal collisions involving teen drivers in the United States occur between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
According to the FLHSMV, about 3,000 crashes involving school buses occurred in 2022.
According to a recent AAA poll, 38% of drivers acknowledged to speeding and 31% admitting to using a hand-held cell phone in active school zones.
According to the FLHSMV, vehicles must pay special attention to lower speed limits, watch for, and follow school crossing guard signals, and only drive or park in permitted places to pick up or drop off children at school. Parents are also asked to discuss safety precautions with their children to ensure their children’s safety near school buses and school zones.
If you are caught by police passing a stopped school bus in Florida (this means the bus has its red lights flashing and STOP arms raised), you can receive a mandatory requirement to take a basic driver improvement course, four points on your license, and at least a fine of $165. Passing on the side where children enter and exit will result in a minimum fine of $265.
If a driver passes a school bus and causes serious bodily harm or death to another person in Florida, the penalties are steep, including 120 hours of community service in a trauma-type hospital setting, attendance at a driver improvement course or be present at a victim’s impact panel session, six points on your driver’s license, a one-year license suspension, and a $1,500 fine.
Our Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Whittel & Melton want everyone to head back to school safely this year. Here are a few tips we have compiled that we hope serve as a reminder to you and your loved ones about the importance of pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist safety.
- If your child takes the bus to school, they should arrive early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to come.
- Students should only enter the bus once it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has indicated that it is safe to do so. They should only board their bus, never another.
- Cross at the intersection, respect traffic lights, and stay in the crosswalk.
- Never dart into the street or attempt to cross between parked cars.
- If children are driven to school in a car, seat belts are a must and children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat. Younger kids should be placed in the proper fitting car seats and booster seats.
- If a teen drives to school, stress the importance of always buckling up. Just like other drivers, there should be no texting or talking on the phone while driving as well as no eating or drinking when behind the wheel.
- Some children ride their bicycles to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right side of the road, in the same direction as traffic.
- When heading to school, children should only cross the street at an intersection and take a route where crossing guards have been set up by the school.
- Parents should take small children to school, as well as children who are traveling new routes or attending new schools, for at least the first week to ensure that they know how to get there safely. A buddy system with other classmates/parents is an excellent option.
- Parents of younger children, especially those who are incoming Kindergarteners, should practice with their child so that they memorize their phone number, address, how to contact their parents at work, how to contact another trusted adult like a neighbor or other family friend nearby, and how to dial 911. Teach kids not to approach strangers or accept rides from people they do not know.
Our Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to help of your child has been injured in a school bus accident or while walking or biking to and from school. We can help you hold the negligent driver accountable for their actions and get you the maximum compensation you need and deserve from these tragic events. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free consultation.