Back to School Safety

Back to School Safety starts with safe driving in school zones, around school buses and throughout our community. But it also includes teaching your children Back to School Safety walking, bicycling, or driving. Be on the alert in the morning and afternoon children are out on our streets heading to and from school. This week more bicycles, school busses, cars and young easily distracted pedestrians are out on our roads as children head back to school. Jacksonville schools start back to school on Monday August 15th. Clay County and St Johns County along with many of the private schools in our area have already started back. At Barnes & Cohen Personal Injury Attorneys we have seen the devastating effects of careless driving. Let’s work together to reduce the number of school children injured in Jacksonville and South Georgia.

Back to School Safety for Teen Drivers

Car Accidents are the #1 Cause of Preventable Deaths for Teens

Florida has over 400,000 teen drivers, age 15 to 19, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. Teen drivers were involved in 59,301 car crashes. Teen car crashes in the state of Florid in one year accounted for 290 fatalities and 2,256 serious injuries.

The following Safe Driving Tips for Teen Drivers are designed to help keep your teen safe.

Review the School Bus chart below with your teen. Most teen drivers and even some adult drivers are unsure of when to stop for School Busses.

  • Back to School Safety School Bus Chart

    Know when to stop for school busses

    Seat belts-Encourage your teens to always buckle up. Make sure they know they are responsible for making sure all the passengers in their vehicle buckle up.

  • Limit passengers- teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when another teen was in the car.

One-third of the teens seriously injured or killed in a Car Accident were NOT buckled up.

  • Cellphone free Zone- No Cellphone usage while driving
  • Set an example by obeying the speed limit, wearing a seatbelt and never drive distracted or impaired
  • Counsel your teen about the dangers of driving impaired drugs, alcohol and even sleep deprivation.
  • Set Consequences –Review the consequences in advance that you have set for each offence. If your teen violates a rule, make sure you enforce the consequence you set. Their life may depend on knowing you mean business.
  • Speed limit-Ride with your teen driver to school on a practice run. Make sure they are aware of reduced speed limits in school zones.

35% of male drivers in the 15–20-year-old age group and 18% of female drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding.

Back to Schools Safety for ALL Drivers

As children return to school, we are reminded of tragic Pedestrian accidents that occurred involving children on their way to and from school. In 2019 a Clay County high school student was hit by a car as he crossed the street to his school early one morning before sunrise. Fortunately, the car was going slow, and the student was OK. That same year an 11-year-old, Terry Bryant was not that lucky. After the young man exited his bus, he attempted to cross University Blvd when he was struck by a car. The young energetic playful child was killed.

Please be aware that our children are on the road early in the morning before the sun is up and late in the afternoon when traffic is at it’s peak. You can make a difference, save a life and prevent a family from the never-ending heart ache of losing a child.

  • Put down your cellphone- Studies revealed reaction times of drivers were more than 40% slower when using a hand-held cellphone.

 Florida Law prohibits talking on a hand-held cell phone in a School Zone or a Construction zone.

  • Texting while driving is prohibited in all circumstances.
  • Slow down- Observe reduced speed guidelines in school zones
  • School busses have priority on our roads Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended. (See the different situations in the diagram)
  • Be watchful as you approach school crossing guards. Stop and obey all directions from crossing guards.
  • Be watchful for pedestrians, bicycles, and teen drivers. Children and teens are easily distracted and incorrectly judge distances. Don’t drive distracted and slow down.

Jacksonville, Florida School Bus crashes declined in 2014 only to peak in 2016 with 272 crashes. School bus crashes decreased dramatically in 2020 due to the pandemic only to increase in 2021 to 207.

Back to school Safety for Children

Jacksonville’s Westside area was the scene of a tragic pedestrian accident last year. A mother and her and her child attempted to cross the street in front of the child’s school bus when a hit-and-run driver stuck both of them. The boy was seriously injured. The mother and her son were crossing in front of a lighted school bus, the driver was required to stop but failed to do so.

Take the time to go through safety tips with your children and teens.

  • Always arrive at the bus stop early. This prevents your child from being injured while they run to catch the bus or cross the street at the wrong time.
  • Make a practice run to the bus stop or school. You may feel your child can safely navigate the trip to school safely but taking the time to make a practice run gives you the opportunity to talk through potential problem situations. A practice run with a parent for children walking, Bicycling, or driving will help address potential safety hazards before they get injured.
  • Early morning or late afternoon students should be equipped with a small flashlight. Students walking in the dark or getting off the school bus in the dark have been struck by cars that were unable to see them in the darkness.
  • Children should look both ways even when crossing in front of a lighted school bus or crossing guard.
  • Teach Stranger Danger. Make sure you warn your child about possible tactics strangers may use to get their attention. Help me find my puppy, or your mom said for you to ride with me, free candy etc.
  • Teach your child to report to you or a teacher any potential Stranger Danger they may have encountered.
  • Teach your child to walk on the sidewalk whenever possible
  • If your child is walking to school or a bus stop before or after sunrise equip them with a small flashlight.

We hope you and your children have a safe, successful, and happy school year.

Jacksonville’s Barnes & Cohen