Guest Column: Back to School
David B Shoar
St Johns County Sheriff
This month I would like to remind all of our citizens as well as visitors that schools will be back in session later this month which means that our children are going to and from school daily. I would ask all of you to take extra time and be extremely careful in school zones as well as at bus stops.
Motorists should plan on longer commutes and follow the speed limit in school zones. Deputies will be at school zones throughout the county to monitor those areas and to address any violations accordingly. Drivers should be advised that speeding fines are doubled if they occur in a school zone.
Deputies will also be in unmarked vehicles seeking any motorists who pass stopped school buses while loading or unloading students. Remember ALL traffic in both directions must come to a complete stop for school buses that are stopped, displaying the “stop” signal. Motorists traveling in the opposite direction are exempt from stopping if the roadway is separated by a median of at least five feet wide. These infractions will be strictly enforced.
Motorists are also reminded to take extra precaution at school bus stops where eager youngsters; many riding the bus for the first time, may dart into the street as the bus arrives.
Here are some safety rules to pass along to children that ride a school bus.
• Arrive at your bus stop at least five minutes early and stand at least ten feet away from the roadway.
• Be sure to wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the bus driver says it’s alright to enter before stepping onto the bus.
• Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps or dangling objects do not get caught in the handrail or door when exiting the bus.
• Pedestrians should always walk in front of the bus, never behind the bus.
• Remember if you can’t see the bus driver, he or she cannot see you.
• After getting off the school bus, stop at the edge of the bus and look both ways before crossing.
• If you were to drop something beside the bus, make sure to you tell the driver before attempting to pick it up.
• Students who walk to school should do so on a sidewalk if it is available.
• If there is no sidewalk, students should walk against the flow of traffic and be sure to cross at marked crosswalks.
• Those who ride a bicycle should remember to ride with the flow of traffic and follow all traffic signs and signals.
• Remember students are required to wear a bicycle helmet.
As schools open for another year, please take the extra time needed and watch out for our most precious resource, our children. It is the hope of all of us who are part of your Sheriff’s Office that our children and teachers have a successful school year.
As I close this month, I would like to remind you that there is a wealth of information that you can obtain by visiting our website at www.sjso.org. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns or questions about your Sheriff’s Office or if you have any topics for my monthly column. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.