Got brakes: Getting educated about bus safety as students go back to school

12:56 PM, Aug 16, 2013   |    comments
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Hillsborough County, FL - Nearly a thousand buses are getting prepared for the school year.

Hillsborough County is one of the largest School districts in the State.  With those buses carrying nearly 100,000 students, school bus safety is critical.

General Manager John Franklin is heading up bus safety preparations as the new school year gets under way.

"I'd just like to challenge all motorists to please be very diligent of our school buses and our loading zones and also our school zones," said Franklin.

The transportation manager and his team know how critical it is to be ready for the students. 

"It's very important that they are observant and vigilant to stop when they see our lights, because it is for the safety of our children," said bus driver, Kathleen Thompson Hicks.

"If we can prevent one child from getting hurt, write one less traffic citation for not stopping for that school bus and creating that unsafe hazard it worked," Captain Chad Chronister. 

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has teamed up with Got Brakes to create a YouTube video giving drivers tips and highlighting some of the most common mistakes drivers make on the road.

VIDEO: Got Brakes? 

"Most of our violations aren't even drivers going in the opposite lane. What we found is most of our drivers simply don't stop for the school bus," said Chronister.  "They're following the bus, they don't take that extra moment to stop."

Parents can also pitch in to help keep students safe.  Franklin recommends dressing your children in bright colored clothes, making sure they are a good distance from the road when waiting to get picked up and adds that chaperoning is a good idea.

The School District will continue to prepare school buses through Monday to ensure students get off to a safe start on the first day of school.

Pinellas County Safety Measures

In Pinellas County, school crossing guards will be on hand at 186 school crossing posts throughout the county starting Monday to help get kids to school safely. Crossing guards will be at their posts as early as 6:20 a.m. and as late as 5 p.m.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is stressing parents teach their children walking or biking to school best practices when it comes to crossing the roads. 

Children should be taught to watch for cars, turn lane traffic and make eye contact with drivers. Children riding their bikes to school should always wear a helmet, it's the law.

Pinellas roadways will soon be full of buses, cars, walkers and bike riders.

Deputies will have extra patrols on the streets near school zones to ensure students are safe during their first week back. Drivers are asked to add a few extra minutes to their morning and afternoon commute and exercise caution in the coming weeks. Vehicles are to come to a full stop when approaching any school bus displaying a stop signal. Motorists must then remain stopped and are prohibited from passing the bus until the signal has been withdrawn.

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