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Ocala, FL – Ocala roadways will be heavy with traffic as children return to school on August 22, 2011.
Be Alert, Drive with Care!

Ocala, FL – Ocala roadways will be heavy with traffic as children return to school on August 22, 2011. Motorists have become very comfortable with the lower traffic volumes and fewer children biking/walking our roadways over the summer break. Please assist us with insuring a safe start by reminding motorists to be alert and drive with care as students take back to the streets.

The state of Florida does not provide bus transportation for elementary children who live within a two-mile radius of their school. For middle and high schools, the distances can be greater. Therefore, many residential roads and some major roadways have the potential to be school routes. Drivers should be especially cautious as they approach intersections, with or without marked crosswalks, and pay particular attention to those areas that are designated as school crossings with the bright yellow signs. When approaching traffic signals, especially those designated as school crossings, make note of children who are approaching the roadway. Right turns on red can be extremely dangerous to pedestrians, especially smaller ones who might be more difficult to see from the driver’s seat.

Ocala Police Officers will be heightening their patrols in school zones, as well as other roadways in the vicinity of schools. Fines for speeding in Ocala school zones range from $156 to $456 and some have a mandated court appearance…minimal in comparison to a child’s life, but heavy on the wallet.

Another major concern going into the new school year is school bus safety. Every year, there are repeated incidents of drivers failing to obey the laws regarding stopped school buses. The language of the law regarding the passing of a stopped school bus can be a bit confusing. Motorists who are uncertain about when a stop is required can visit the State’s “Stop on Red, Kids Ahead” website at www.floridaschoolbussafety.gov for more information and great graphics that better explain these laws. Remember, small bodies are not easily seen as they exit and walk around the front of a bus. These laws are in place to protect the children within our community. Take time to learn the laws and obey them!

Finally, parents should also take extra care in educating their children about pedestrian and bicycle safety by traveling the route with their child over the weekend or during the first several days of school to insure they know the appropriate places to cross and how to do so safely. Children should be reminded to ALWAYS look left, right, and left again when crossing the road and to be particularly aware of drivers making turns. Those riding bikes should be reminded to always wear a helmet and to walk their bikes through crosswalks. Student pedestrians and cyclists should be reminded to obey the instructions of School Crossing Guards and officers stationed along their route.

Let’s start the school year off on the right foot! Be safe, be seen, and be aware!

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