North Central Florida Schools are back in session
It's the first day of school and drivers may have seen more traffic on the roads. When a school bus is picking up or dropping off students it is important that they stop and make sure they are following state driving laws.
This photo from the Florida Department of Highway Safety you see three animations. The first shows a two-lane highway with no median. In that instance traffic traveling in both directions need to stop for the school bus. The second animation shows a four-lane highway with a median for turning in the middle, but no grass or raised cement median. Since the highway is flat all lanes are required to stop for the bus. The final photo shows a four-lane highway with a raised median or grass bed in the middle. In this case, only the two lanes on the side where the bus is picking up and dropping off students are required to stop.
If drivers fail to stop for school busses the fines are hefty. According to the Florida Department of Highway Saftey, it is considered a moving violation that includes a citation. An individual can receive four points on your driver's license and receive a minimum fine of $165.00. dollars. The fine goes up to $265.00 if you do not stop and you are passing the bus on the side where the entrance and exit are located. If you are convicted you are required to take a driver improvement course.
When traveling through school zones speeding fines are doubled and failing to stop for a crossing guard could result in a ticket along with points on your license.
TV20 spoke with Jackie Johnson of the Alachua County school district who says that delays should be expected throughout the first week. She says bus routes will change as the district needs to determine new and additional pickup locations
The most important thing for drivers to remember according to Johnson is to watch out for students on all roads not just in school zones.
She says that there was some first day of school problems because of the storms last night. Johnson says the district is working to repair electrical wiring and AC in a few schools but for the most part, everything is running properly.
Kevin Christian the Public Relations Director for the Marion County school district said, that as new bus routes are determined drivers will need to learn the routes and their riders. He said, at first it may cause delays but will eventually become quicker.
"We enourage parents to wait for the bus, because students need to ride the bus in the morning in order to be able to ride it in the afternoon and that's a saftey precaution in our district. Lots of paitence as these bus routes are kind of gone through and smoothed out," said Christian. "The drivers learn who the sudents are, where there picked up and where they're dropped off. That's a saftey factor. And we rely on the bus drivers to get to know their kids and which stops they're suppose to get off at.
He says Marion County added new safety measures including school resource officers in every school and creating their own police force which consists of six officers. Christian, says there is one other change that students and parents will notice.
"We'll see a lot of visible things taking place on campuses this year, primarily fencing that is installed to create a single point entry onto the campus. A lot of our schools have that and will recieve that this year. All of our high schools are just about to wrap up with that," said Christian. "Then we'll go to middle schools. A lot of our elementary schools are created that way because of how they are built, so that single natural point is already a natural place to that school."
He says that Marion County has increase in enrollment and it is expected to grow. They project the enrollment number by October will be over 40,000 students.