Hernando County schools are back in session starting Monday, so expect to see law enforcement officers out in full force in school zones as classes begin.
They are looking to make sure drivers are obeying the rules of the road.
The main thing they will be keeping an extra eye on is making sure drivers come to a complete stop when school buses pick up and drop off kids.
Florida Highway Patrol says a common issue is drivers refusing to stop when buses’ flashing lights are on and stop signs are out. It is state law for drivers to stop at that point, unless they are on the other side of the road from the bus and separated by a median.
Many bus drivers throughout the county and the state say they encounter drivers refusing to stop at least several times a week.
Police officers also have a message for parents whose kids ride a bike to school. State law requires children under the age of 16 to wear a helmet while riding a bike.
Last year a young man who wasn’t wearing a helmet died after a semi-truck hit him. The boy was in the crosswalk and was following the rules of the road.
If police find a child who is not wearing a helmet, they or their parent can be cited and receive a $62.50 fine. The ticket can be dismissed with proof of purchase of an approved helmet.
Texting While Driving Law Will Change in School Zones
Another thing that will be back starting Monday is school zones — slow speed zones near schools at certain times of the day.
Starting in October, school zones will get another rule — no touching mobile devices in school zones, period.
The rule is part of the new texting while driving law that the Florida Legislature passed this year.
Starting in October, drivers have to put down the phone in school zones, areas where students are crossing, and active construction zones.
In October, you could get pulled over and get a warning for doing so.
But starting in January, those warnings will become citations with fines.
Keeping children safe on their way to and from school is a huge priority for transportation officials. A few of the ways they try and do this is by using:
- Crossing guards
- Reduced speed zones
- Children walking signs
- Enhanced traffic enforcement by police
There are various different Florida school zone violations for which you can receive a citation, including:
- Disregarding a crossing guard
- Violating the right of way/ failure to yield
When these traffic offenses occur in a school zone they have enhanced penalties, ranging from fines to points on your driver’s license. In more severe cases where these offenses accompany any criminal offense, like a DUI, you can also be arrested.
The intent of establishing school zones is make sure children get from their home and to school safely, and vice versa. However, these school zones do not always work as they were intended to. As drivers, it is very important to exercise a proactive approach rather than reactive approach in order to ensure that no children are susceptible to any avoidable dangers on their way to and from school each day. Moreover, it is very important to review your driving habits and make sure you are not contributing to the problem. Our Hernando County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton encourage you to review the tips below to ensure that you are creating a safer environment for all children in school zones:
- Always keep a vigilant eye out for children and assume that they could dart out into the street at any moment. Pay attention because it is quite common for children to run into the street from behind a building or other area that may have obstructed your view.
- Do not speed. By slowing down you can improve your reaction time and reduce the severity of potential injuries should you be involved in an accident with a child.
- Put your electronic devices down. Phone calls and text messages can wait until you safely reach your endpoint. By not responding to a text or missing a call, you could in turn save a life.
At Whittel & Melton, we know how important your children are and that you will do everything you can to keep them away from any danger or harm. Injuries that arise from careless or negligent drivers are entirely avoidable, but in the event your child has encountered a reckless driver and suffered harm, we can help. We can make sure they at-fault driver is held legally responsible for their careless actions by filing a personal injury lawsuit seeking financial compensation.