JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – School is slowly but surely starting back across our area, and whether you have a child in school or not, Channel 4 Crime & Safety Expert Ken Jefferson says, "Safety is everyone's responsibility."
Jefferson, who spent two decades with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, has seen tragedies occur that he says were completely preventable. He offers four reminders for everyone.
1. Watch for distracted kids
Jefferson says a lot of kids may be walking or riding their bikes to school for the first time., or they may be seeing friends they haven't seen in a while and may be talking and catching up or kids could may be nervous and may be thinking of other things. Regardless, Jefferson says children may not be paying full attention to the traffic around them and urges all drivers to be very careful.
2. Stop for stopped school buses
With the summer break, traffic has been pretty smooth, but with kids and teachers heading back to class, there will be more vehicles, including school buses on the road. Jefferson urges all drivers to pack their patience and follow the rules of the road, specifically when it comes to stopped school buses. Don't get impatient and try and go around them. Remember, children are getting on and off those buses, some of them for the first time. You never know when a child will pop up in front of you. If you see the stop arm of a school bus in front of you, stop. For an explanation of Florida law as to when you are required by law to stop for a stopped school bus, go to www.floridaschoolbussafety.gov.
3. Slow down in school zones
Jefferson says over the summer, you may not have seen any of the flashing lights, but with school back in session, so are those flashing yellow lights. He reminds all drivers to pay attention in school zones. According to Florida's Department of Motor Vehicles, when the yellow lights are flashing, the speed limit drops to 15 mph Speed limit signs and school zone signs are posted around schools to let you know when you've reached a school zone and when you have left.
4. Walk the route
Jefferson reminds all parents, whether their kids are walking or biking to school for the first time or not, they should walk the route with their kids. Help your children identify people and places they'll be seeing every day while they make their way to and from school. Jefferson wants parents to have a conversation with their children about who they should contact if they feel threatened and where they should go to feel safe.