With Summer coming to an end and kids heading back to school in a matter of days, safety is a primary concern for Hernando County law enforcement.

The first week of school can be hectic with increased pedestrian traffic, as well as vehicular traffic, on the Hernando County roadways.

“It is hard to believe another school year is about to start. I am sure parents, teachers, and students are shocked at how quickly the summer months passed. Any day, we should start seeing signs of the preparation of the new school year as school bus drivers learn their routes and parents do their back to school shopping. The first day of the 2019-2020 Hernando County school year is Monday, August 12. The entire week will be chaotic as everyone tries to settle into the routine of a new school year. Therefore, if you must travel, please leave at least 15 to 30 minutes early. This extra time will reduce frustration and make the roadway safer for everyone. Please pay special attention to school zones, as my deputies will be out in force making sure the roadways are safe for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens as they travel to and from school, ” said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.

Drivers should be mindful of the following:

  • Many students will be walking and/or riding bicycles to school along the sidewalks and county roadways
  • Parents should ensure that children who ride bicycles wear properly fitting helmets
  • Expect heavy traffic back-ups in school zones
  • Parents should have children ride school buses when bus routes are available – alleviating unnecessary traffic in school zones
  • Motorists should avoid school zones if at all possible
  • Be patient and drive carefully
  •  The first few weeks of school are always extra busy so leave plenty of time to travel
  • When a school bus stops and the red lights are flashing – traffic approaching from either direction is required to stop
  • Reduce or eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings
  • Put down the phone
  •  Do not text and drive
  • If you have any type of emergency or get into an accident, call 9-1-1 immediately
    — tell the operator the location of the emergency
    — answer all of the questions appropriately
    — emergency vehicles are dispatched immediately – answering the dispatcher’s questions does not delay the response.

Walkers

Review your family’s walking safety rules and practice walking to school with your child.

  • Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available; when on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic
  • Before you cross the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing and always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections
  • Stay alert and avoid distracted walking

Bike Riders

Teach your child the rules of the road and practice riding the bike route to school with your child.

  • Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in a single file
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street
  • Stay alert and avoid distracted riding
  • Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing

Bus Riders

Teach your children school bus safety rules and practice with them.

  • Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus
  • Teach your children to stand 6 feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb
  • If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus; your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other
  • Get the facts on bus safety from Injury Facts

Teen Drivers

Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens. Fortunately, there is something we can do.

  • Teens crash because they are inexperienced; practice with new drivers every week, before and after they get their license
  • Set a good example; drive the way you want your teen to drive
  • Sign the New Driver Deal, an agreement that helps define expectations for parents and teens

Sources: Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Hernando County School Board, National Safety Institute

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