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More kids on Florida roads as school starts throughout the state

New backpacks, paper and pencils have been purchased as children in Florida gear up for the start of the new school year. St. Augustine drivers should also take note of the fact that school is starting throughout the state, and this means that more children will be on Florida roads. It is important for drivers to pay attention to children walking to school or riding the bus, particularly during drop-off and pick-up times.

In fact, the National Safety Council reports that of those children who are killed in incidents involving buses, most are on foot and are between the ages of four to seven. These children could be struck by the school bus itself, or they could be struck by a driver making an illegal maneuver in order to get around a bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children.

Drivers should make sure they do not stop in crosswalks while waiting at a traffic signal or to execute a turn. Stopping in a crosswalk means children have no choice but to walk outside the crosswalk, exposing them to moving traffic. Instead, drivers should stop and yield to pedestrians in school zones and in crosswalks. If an intersection has a crossing guard, motorists should make sure to stop when the crossing guard signals for them to stop. Keep in mind that children will most likely be present in school zones, in neighborhoods and in playgrounds, so extra care must be taken in these locations.

Care must also be taken when a school bus is loading or unloading pupils. Motorists must stop if they are in the presence of a bus that has its stop arm out and its lights flashing. In addition, motorists should leave at least 10 feet of space between them and a school bus so that children have enough room to safely board or get off the bus. Finally, children do not always have the foresight adults have and may behave unpredictably. Motorists need to stay alert to the behaviors of children in their presence.

By following these rules, motorists can ensure that children stay safe as they travel to and from school. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents involving children are still a very real possibility. If your child has been struck by a car while walking to school, you may want to determine whether it is appropriate to pursue legal action against the motorist.

Source: National Safety Council, "Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road," Accessed Aug. 19, 2017

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