Back to School Safety Tips for South Florida Residents
School is back in session this week in South Florida which can be chaos for drivers during their commute to work and a potentially overwhelming situation for parents and children. This year more than others, with many South Florida children returning to school for the first time in a year and a half due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are challenges and safety concerns that face us all. We encourage you to read and to speak with teachers, school administrators, local leaders, and pediatricians as we all attempt to navigate this new world together. Most importantly, speak with your children about safety rules to follow in and around school.
Commuters usually love the summertime because they know there will be no delays at crosswalks, no school zones and less traffic overall. During the first week of school, there is an increased risk of transportation related injuries for children due to pedestrian, bicycle, school bus, and motor vehicle accidents. This may be even more true this year, as it has been a long time since South Florida’s drivers have had to worry about busy school zones in the mornings and afternoons.
Here are a few things to consider and be aware of, especially for the first week back to school.
- Give yourself a few extra minutes to get to work due to increased traffic, school bus stops and school zones.
- Keep an eye out for young pedestrians that are paying more attention to their cell phones and friends than their route to school and the hazards they are facing.
- Put your own cell phone away while you are driving. Looking down for even a second could cost someone their life, and create a horror that you will have live with for the rest of yours.
- Stop fully at all stop signs and crosswalks. It is illegal to pass through a stationary stop sign or one held by a crossing guard.
- Obey all school zones and keep in mind the speed limit in South Florida is generally between 15-20 mph during designated times of the day.
- Teach your children to listen to crossing guards on the streets and teachers in the carpool lines. Make sure they know to look both ways before crossing the street, avoid distractions and being alert at all times.
A new school year is also a time for newly licensed drivers to commute to school. This can be exciting for them, but also dangerous. According to the CDC, teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations. Car crashes are the #1 cause of death among teens. New drivers can be distracted more easily and are more prone to getting into a car accident since they are not as experienced. A new school year and using a new method of transportation could stress teens out and increase their risk of speeding to make it on time. Practice safe driving regularly with your teen drivers, make sure they put their phones down while driving (!!!) and look into the numerous apps to monitor their driving practices and habits.
According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are between the ages of 4 and 7, and they are walking at the time of the incident. They are either hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. Instruct your children how to enter and exit a bus properly, to wear seatbelts on the bus when they are provided and how to properly cross in front of a bus.
Accidents and injuries can also happen on playgrounds in and around schools. It is important that you speak with your children and calmly ask what happened, so that they feel comfortable explaining to you their injuries and symptoms. This is especially true with closed head injuries and concussions, which often go undocumented or undiagnosed. Make sure your children feel safe speaking to you and teachers about their injuries or safety problems around the school.
Childhood abduction is also a very serious concern as schools go back into session. Children should understand basic stranger rules, not getting into unknown cars and reporting suspicious activity to a responsible adult. Some parents use a password that only their kids and trusted friends and family will know in an effort to avoid abduction. Other parents now use tracking apps on phones, or chips and tags sewn into backpacks, to monitor where their children are.
Please keep all the students safe by taking extra precautions and stay alert while you are driving. With a little extra care and attention, we can all make it to our destination safely and ensure the safety of those around us, especially schoolchildren. We are all in this together.
If you or a loved one has experienced an injury in or around school, be it a traffic accident or crash, playground injury or trip and fall on school property, call the injury attorneys of Cutler Rader today. If you are interested in learning more about our firm, how we can help you or our continued commitment toward protecting the children in our communities, please email us or call us at 954-913-2273.