GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - School resource officers, crossing guards, and bus drivers are training to be ready for the traffic increase. Gainesville firefighters are making the extra effort to remind drivers to be cautious.
GFR Assistant Chief Stephen Hesson said, "We're out at various schools that we deem to be high traffic schools." They have been carrying signs telling drivers to keep their distance from school buses and not to drive distracted, especially through school zones, which will be back up and running on Monday.
"We hope people will be proactive in anticipation of school opening next week, the potential hazards associated with that," said Hesson.
Lt. Jayson Levy with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office is a former SRO, and traffic enforcement officer. He said, "If the lights are starting to flash yellow and then they turn red, whenever you see them flash, slow down and stop for the bus. If you're not sure its always better to stop."
School bus drivers have to start flashing their lights at least 200 feet away from the school bus stop, but they have to make sure no one is driving past them before they allow kids off, which means it's up to the driver to stop.
"Most people think that when a school bus is stopped on one side of the road, and you're coming in the opposite direction, that just because it's stopped on one side that you don't have to stop if you're going in the opposite direction," said Lt. Levy.
Drivers have to stop when a school bus is stopping, unless there's a raised median dividing the roadway. Just because there are multiple lanes, does not mean it is okay to pass. Failure to stop and passing a school bus could cost you up to $300.
Gainesville firefighters plan to warn drivers annually. "This year we're covering 6 schools, next year we hope to increase that," said Hesson.
Gilchrist, Levy, Marion, Putnam, and Bradford counties start school on August 10th. Columbia County starts on Monday along with Alachua County.