There is no more precious cargo than our children, and we trust school buses to carry that cargo. As such, drivers must exercise extreme caution when driving around school buses, as well as in school zones, school parking lots, and roads near schools. Not only should drivers take extra precautions to avoid injuring children, but parents should also spend time educating their children on sound safety practices to avoid unnecessary harm.
In this article, we’re going to talk about school bus safety rules in Florida. Also, we will go over various school bus and school zone safety tips for children and drivers.
Penalties for Failure to Stop for a School Bus in Florida
Florida imposes serious fines for folks that fail to stop for a school bus, and this fine has doubled in recent years. In the past, the penalty for not stopping for a school bus was $100. The penalty for passing on the side children enter and exit when the STOP signal was out was a minimum fine of $200. Now, the fine for not stopping is $200, and if the driver passes on the side children enter and exit, the fine is $400.
Additionally, if the driver commits the same offense and fails to stop for a school bus within 5 years of the first offense, the driver’s license may be suspended for up to 1 year. Additionally, if the driver’s offense was passing on the same side as children enter and exit, and then the driver committed a second offense within 5 years of the first, the driver’s license may be suspended for up to 2 years.
Distracted Driving is Not Tolerated in Florida School Zones
Florida law prohibits hands-on use of cell phones while driving in a designated school zone or at a designated school crossing. Drivers who violate this law commit a noncriminal traffic infraction that is punishable as a moving violation. The penalty includes a $60 base fine, which does not include court costs and other fees. Additionally, violators will get 3 points on their driver’s license.
School Zone Safety Facts
Drivers and children should exercise extreme caution in school zones. There is often a lot going on in a school zone, and so children and drivers can easily become distracted. It only takes a brief lapse in attention for something terrible to happen. So, here are some school zone safety facts to keep in mind.
Facts About School Zone Injuries
Young children are all over the place. They’re fast, and they’re hard to keep an eye on. To make things scarier, children often are unaware of danger or unable to appreciate danger. Tragically, children are injured or killed every year as a result of being hit by an automobile. Here are some facts about school zone injuries to keep in mind.
- Most young children who get hit by a car are injured near their home or on their own street.
- Children are most likely to get hit by a car between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
- Children are most likely to be hit by a car during days when the weather is fair and warm.
- Roughly twice as many young boys are injured as young girls.
Preventing School Zone Accidents
There are some things that people can do, especially teachers, parents, and guardians, to minimize danger to children in school zones.
Supervise Young Children in School Zones at All Times
Don’t let young children cross the street alone. Instead, teach them about who can help them cross the street safely, and instruct them to reach out to one of these people before attempting to cross the street.
Explain to Children the Proper Ways to Cross the Street
If you have children under your authority, explain to them (in detail) how to properly and safely cross the street. For example, tell them: “When we cross the street, we always stop at the curb and look for cars. We look left for traffic, then we look right, then we look left again before we try to cross. We only cross the street when it’s clear, but we are always looking left and right.”
Show Children the Proper Way to Cross the Street
The best way to teach is by proper example. Whenever you cross the street with a child, exercise the following precautions:
- Stop at the curb;
- Look both ways (left-right-left) before attempting to cross;
- Only cross the street when clear;
- Stay vigilant and keep looking as you are crossing the street.
Reinforce Good Behavior
When you’re crossing the street with a child, always praise that child for exercising caution when crossing the street and taking the proper steps.
School Zone Safety Tips
The beginning of school is an exciting time. However, it’s also a dangerous time because children are at an increased risk of suffering transportation-related injuries in Florida as a result of a crash with a school bus, automobile, bicycle, or golf cart.
There are many reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is that driving patters change significantly when school starts back up. Additionally, when school starts back up, children come out in droves, and they have not yet settled into a routine regarding going to school and coming back from school. Thus, some children may make mistakes when boarding or exiting vehicles or while they’re walking that makes them more vulnerable to an accident.
Below are some safety tips for motorists, parents, and students to reduce the risk of school bus accidents and accidents involving children and automobiles.
Safety Tips for Motorists in School Zones
- Slow down and exercise extreme caution when children are present or when a school bus is in the vicinity.
- Obey all traffic laws and reduce speed, as required in most school zones.
- Always stop for a school bus that is stopped ahead of you to load or unload child passengers. Often, when passengers are getting on or off the bus, the bus will extend the stop sign arm and turn on red flashing lights to signal to drivers that children are getting on or off the bus.
- If you are on a two-lane road, stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading passengers;
- If you are traveling in the same direction as the school bus, and it stops ahead to load or unload passengers, you must stop for the bus.
- If you are not in a situation such that you must stop for the bus, slow your speed and proceed with caution when passing a school bus.
- Watch for children who might dart out in front of you, and always be ready to stop in an instant.
- When backing out of a driveway or garage during school bus hours, be especially careful and on the lookout for children behind your vehicle.
- In a residential area or in a school zone, be careful and watch for children who are rushing to get to school.
School Zone Safety Tips for Parents
- Teach your children school zone and school bus safety.
- Teach children proper safety rules for when they are walking, biking, riding in an automobile, and riding in a school bus.
- Supervise young children at all times as they are walking or biking to school, as well as when they are waiting at a school bus stop.
- Lead by example. Always demonstrate proper safety by being vigilant while walking, buckling up while driving, wearing a helmet while biking, and following all safety rules at all times.
School Zone Safety Tips for Children
- Always buckle your seat belt when riding in a car, pickup truck, van, or any other automobile.
- Always ride in the back seat because it’s the safest place for young children to ride.
- Always wear a bike helmet and follow the applicable rules when riding a bicycle.
- When riding the bus to and from school, learn the proper safety rules and follow them diligently.
- When walking to and from school, learn pedestrian safety rules, and always obey all traffic rules.
- Always lead by example. Be a good role model for your peers and younger children who may be watching to see how you behave in a variety of circumstances.