It’s back-to-school time for many students across Florida, and during August, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), and partners in safety throughout the state will be emphasizing the important role parents, grandparents, caregivers, and motorists have in keeping Florida’s children safe when traveling to or from school.
Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death among children nationwide. Last year, Florida saw a 30% decrease in children involved in crashes yet a 32% increase in child fatalities from crashes when compared to 2019.
In 2020, nearly 50% of child passengers killed in vehicle crashes in Florida were not wearing any type of restraint – a 127% increase from 2019. A seat belt or child restraint is a vehicle’s most important safety feature, but it only works if they are used and used correctly, every time.
Secure their future – buckle up and choose the right seat
• Seat belts save lives and are required to be worn by all drivers, front-right passengers, and anyone under the age of 18; however, FLHSMV strongly recommends seat belt usage for all ages.
• The best car seat is the one that fits your child’s size, is correctly installed, fits well in your car, and is used properly every time you drive.
• Be sure to read the seat’s instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner manual when installing a car seat in your vehicle.
• Remember to check for car seat and booster seat recalls and sign up to receive any potential alerts in the future.
Stop for school buses and slow down in school zones
• As of January 1, 2021, the penalties for failing to stop for a school bus and passing a stopped school bus on the side where children enter and exit doubled. It is imperative that all motorists properly stop for school buses so all of Florida’s children can arrive at school or home safely.
• Using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner while driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area is against the law and extremely dangerous.
• Be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses and in school parking lots. Pay extra attention to the lower speed limits in school zones. Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up hildren at school.
Move safely together – look before you step out
• Always walk on the sidewalk if there is one. If no sidewalks are present, walk against the direction of traffic so that you can see oncoming vehicles.
• Cross the roadway where pedestrians are
expected, at corners or in crosswalks, and watch for traffic when crossing the street.
• Pay attention. Avoid headphones so that you can hear the traffic and pedestrians around you. Never text or look at your phone when crossing the street.
Check for kids and pets
• As routines change, it’s imperative to remain vigilant and make sure all children are out of the vehicle and accounted for before leaving. Put your purse, phone, or shoe in the backseat as a reminder to check.
• Never leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle. Florida temperatures are hot and will rapidly increase in minutes, even if parked in the shade or with a window cracked..