School days bring congestion: school buses are picking up and dropping off kids, parents are shuffling kids between school and activities, students are rushing to school on bikes and foot, and new drivers are behind the wheel for the first time learning new routes and routines.

Now is the time to slow down and pay attention. Below are some suggestions on how to make your morning and afternoon school commutes safer for everyone.

School Zones
According to the National Safety Council, more children are struck by cars near schools than at any other location. Florida Statutes 316.1895 establishes and enforces School Speed Zones, which typically designate speeds of 15-20 miles per hour during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up.

When driving, be on the lookout for School Speed Zones and obey the posted limits. Also:
Make sure you and your children familiarize yourselves with your school’s rules for pickup and drop-off protocols
Look for school crossing guards and obey their signals
Watch out for children- young children are impulsive and do not always follow proper safety protocol near schools
Do not make unexpected movements such as changing lanes, passing another vehicle, or making a U-turn
Never text while driving in a school zone
Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading children
Do not use handicap for emergency vehicle lanes or spaces unless you are licensed to do so
Do not double-park; it reduces visibility for other drivers and children and makes it difficult for other drivers to maneuver.
Do not drop children off across the street from the school

School Bus Safety
Approximately 25 million students nationwide ride the bus to and from school. While school buses are considered the safest way to travel and keep more than 17 million cars off school routes every day, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration still reports that more school-age children have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day.

Drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading children. To ensure that the school bus trip is safe:
Always ensure your child stays away from the street, alleys, or private property and avoids horseplay or other careless behavior when waiting for the bus
Do not walk in the driver’s “blind spot” – the area from the front of the bus to 10 feet in front of the bus
Make sure your child understands that they should not shout or distract the driver, should remain seated at all times, should keep their heads/arms/legs inside the bus, and keep the aisle clear of backpacks and other tripping hazards
Always stop if the yellow or red lights on a bus are flashing or the stop sign is extended- it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is loading or unloading children

By exercising a little extra care and caution this school year, drivers, school buses, and students can co-exist safely in and around school zones.

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