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Lake County CTST issues back-to-school safety tips

For immediate release -- Aug. 16, 2012

The Lake County Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST) and Lake County Schools’ Transportation Department are offering motorists, parents and students a collection of safety tips from the Florida Department of Transportation to help make the upcoming school year as safe as possible.

With the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 20, traffic and bus safety is a high priority for Lake County Schools and Lake County CTST. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, District transportation personnel and the motoring public all play important roles in keeping children safe as they start the new school year.

TRAFFIC SAFETY:

  • With increased traffic, allow extra time to reach a destination.
  • Know and obey the law with regard to stopping for school buses loading and unloading children.
  • Be aware of the speed limit and your speed, especially in school zones and around schools.
  • Obey all crossing guard directions.

CHILDREN IN A CAR:

  • All passengers must wear a seat belt or an appropriate car safety seat. Motorists and passengers can and will be ticketed for not wearing a safety belt. Adult drivers are responsible for their passengers under 18 years of age when it comes to proper safety belt and car seat use.
  • Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. As a parent: require seat belt use by the driver and all passengers; limit the number of teen passengers; do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations or texting to prevent driver distraction; limit nighttime driving; and limit driving in inclement weather.

CHILDREN ON A BIKE:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride. The law requires children under age 16 to wear a helmet.
  • Ride on the right; in the same direction as traffic (younger children should use sidewalks).
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Obey traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.
  • Know the “rules of the road.”
CHILDREN WALKING TO SCHOOL:
  • Make sure a child's walk to school is a safe route, hopefully with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Be realistic about a child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether a child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If a child is young or is walking to a new school, walk with them the first week to make sure he or she knows the route and can do it safely.
  • Teach children to be aware of their surroundings.
  • Bright-colored clothing will make a child more visible to drivers.

WALKING TO THE BUS STOP & WAITING FOR THE BUS

  • Always walk on the sidewalk to the bus stop; never run. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left facing traffic.
  • Arrive at the bus stop about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. While at the bus stop, wait quietly in a safe place well away from the road. Do not run and play while waiting.

GETTING ON & OFF THE BUS

  • Enter the bus in a line with younger students in front. Hold the handrail while going up and down the steps.
  • When entering the bus, go directly to a seat. Remain seated and face forward during the entire ride.

RIDING THE BUS

  • Always speak quietly on the bus so the driver will not be distracted. Always be silent when a bus comes to a railroad crossing so the driver can hear if a train is coming.
  • Never throw things on the bus or out the windows.
  • Keep the aisles clear at all times. Feet should be directly in front of you on the floor and book bags should be kept on your lap.
  • Never play with the emergency exits. Large instruments or sports equipment should not block the aisle or emergency exits.
  • If there is an emergency, listen to the driver and follow instructions.
  • Hands should be kept to yourself at all times while riding on the bus. Fighting and picking on others is a recipe for a dangerous bus ride.

EXITING THE BUS

  • If you leave something on the bus, never return to the bus to get it. The driver may not see you come back and he or she may begin moving the bus. Make sure that drawstrings and other loose objects are secure before getting off the bus so that they do not get caught on the handrail or the door.
  • Respect the “Danger Zone” which surrounds all sides of the bus. The “Danger Zone” is 10 feet wide on all sides of the bus. Always remain 10 steps away from the bus to be out of the “Danger Zone” and where the driver can see you.
  • Always cross the street in front of the bus. Never go behind the bus. If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver before you attempt to pick it up.
  • Never speak to strangers at the bus stop and never get into the car with a stranger. Always go straight home and tell you parents if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.

The Lake County CTST is a multi-jurisdictional agency with cooperation between Lake County, its municipalities, other organizations and concerned citizens. The CTST uses a multi-disciplinary approach to solve roadway safety problems in Lake County. The team is comprised of individuals representing engineering, law enforcement, emergency services, traffic-safety education and the public. For more information about the Lake County CTST, call (352) 483-9048.