A new school year means more cars and students back on the road.
It is up to both pedestrians and drivers to be aware, cautious and ready to react.
Child pedestrian deaths have jumped 11% in the last decade, according to annual reports on traffic trends from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The two groups most at danger are 10- to 14-year-olds and 15- to 19-year-olds.
“Pay attention to what is in front of you, beside you and behind you,” said deputy Andrew Ford, the public information officer for the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Ford said keeping your eyes on the road is vital.
For those walking to school, always cross in a designated crosswalk and avoid distractions.
“[With students] walking to school, and they are talking to their friends, or they are looking down on their phones, and being distracted,” Ford said of things he sees. “Crossing in the middle of an intersection is not only potentially dangerous or hazardous but could get someone severely injured or cost them their life.”
For those driving in school zones, Ford says slow down and go no faster than 20 mph. Stop if a school bus has its red lights flashing and the stop sign arm extended. Do not go around that.
Be mindful and listen to crossing guards or deputies directing traffic.
If someone is biking to school, they should get off their bike and walk across the street in the crosswalk with it before getting back on to ride.
Ford said people’s lives are at stake.
“The seriousness of this is we do not want to see children, or anyone, get hurt on their way to school or on their way home from school,” he said.
Instead, he wants students to have a safe and successful 2023-2024 school year.