(By Fire Chief Matt Love) With the school back in session this week, it’s important to remember to follow a few School Zone Safety tips. Members of our department will be hanging out in the school zone to welcome back students, but also to remind drivers to slow down in school zones. This safety initiative has been happening for many years and it is a great way to remind drivers of the hazards that may occur during the school year.
As sad as this information is, according to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they are walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. It is very important to share the road with buses and bicyclists and here are some safety reminder tips to remember:
· Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you are on an undivided road – or if it is stopped to load or unload children
· If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
· The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
· Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
· When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between you and the cyclist
· When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
· Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
· Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
· Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
· Check side mirrors before opening your door
School days bring congestion: School buses are picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, and parents are trying to drop their kids off before work. It is never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school. By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.
We hope everyone has a safe and fun school year!
Chief Love has been the Fort Myers Beach Fire Chief since 2016. In 2019 he was selected by the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Lee County Florida as Fire Chief of the Year, and in 2020 he was named District Manager of the year for the state of Florida by the FASD. He can be reached at the fire department headquarters at 239- 590-4200