The school season is a busy, but exciting, time of year for everyone. Our goal at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is to make sure children stay safe as they make the trip back to school.

One way of ensuring that happens is staying aware of the increased traffic, pedestrians, and school buses on the road. Also, anticipate slower commutes to work if you must travel through school zones. Always follow the rules of the road when you approach a school or school bus.

Keep these guidelines in mind:

--Pay attention to the road and keep an eye out for children, especially in crosswalks.

--Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.

--Slow down in school zones. Never go above the posted speed limit, and obey all traffic signs. The fines are doubled for speeding in a school zone or designated school crossing.

--Stop for school buses displaying stop signs. You do not have to stop when the roadway is divided by an unpaved median or raised barrier of at least five feet wide. You must remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus signal has been withdrawn.

--Never text and drive, especially in a school zone. Deputies will issue warnings to offenders until December 31st of this year. Afterwards, they may issue citations.

If you have children, ensure they stay safe on their routes to school by following these tips:

--If your child walks to and from school, instruct him or her to use the same route every day and not deviate from their path or go elsewhere without notifying you first. Encourage them to walk with friends and use public sidewalks and crosswalks.

--Ensure your child always wears a helmet if they ride his or her bike. Check with the school to see if your child is allowed to ride a bike to class. Some schools do not allow students to do this until they reach a certain grade.

--Unless licensed to do so, never use handicap or emergency vehicle lanes or spaces to drop off or pick up children at school.

--Teach your child to avoid strangers and never get into a vehicle with one without your permission.

--Instruct your child on what to do if there is an active shooter at school using the mantra, “Run, Hide, Fight.” Also encourage them to report suspicious behavior among their classmates using the Fortify Florida app, telling you, or talking to their teachers and principal at school.

This school year, help us keep our kids safe. Know the rules, stay alert, be patient, and teach others to do the same.

Posted by Thursday, August 1, 2019 9:58:00 AM

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