The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be out in force next week as children return to school.
“We take school-related safety very seriously,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We have a no tolerance policy for people who choose to speed in school zones, and for those who illegally pass school buses. We will be out in force beginning next week in both marked and unmarked cars watching for violators.”
Sheriff’s Office deputies will patrol school zones in the county to make sure drivers realize school is back in session. Road Patrol deputies will also be spending any free time they have concentrating on areas surrounding schools and school bus stops and they will be writing tickets to anyone not obeying the speed limits in school zones or those illegally passing school buses.
Children and parents should also remember: If a child rides a bicycle to school, Florida law requires anyone under the age of 16 to wear a helmet. A violation of this requirement can result in a $25 fine.
Whether you have kids in school or not, be ready to adjust your schedule to accommodate the traffic slowdowns that occur when school is in session. Patience is the most important thing that every motorist can bring to the table. It’s worth allowing a little more time to get around to be sure that all Key West kids are safe on their way to and from school.
Here are some child safety tips for parents to keep in mind:
• If your child is walking to or from school, walk the route with them beforehand. Choose the most direct way, and be sure the route has sufficient sidewalks, lighting and crossing guards. If a crossing guard is absent, be sure your child knows when it is safe to cross the street;
• Make sure your child walks to and from school with other trusted schoolmates and follows the tried and true axiom, “Never talk to strangers;”
• Teach your kids to obey all traffic signals when walking or biking to school;
• When biking, be sure your child has a helmet;
• When waiting for the school bus always stand on the sidewalk, away from the roadway. Always remain seated while on the bus;
• Be sure your child knows a phone number where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
Anyone driving should make an extra effort to watch out for students, who may not be paying attention to traffic in their excitement about returning to school. Be especially careful around residential neighborhoods, areas with bus stops, and around schools themselves.
This is a good time to take a look at your own driving habits and review the rules of the road. Florida law prohibits passing a school bus in either direction when it is stopped with red lights flashing. Drivers must also remember to slow down to the posted speed limit in school zones. The Key West Police Department does not tolerate negligent actions that could harm our community’s children. Anyone caught passing a stopped school bus or speeding in a school zone can expect to be stopped and cited accordingly.
It is up to each one of us to ensure that our school children are safe. Please do your part and be aware as you drive.
Sadly, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is adding a vital message to the reminders surrounding back to school: If you see something, say something. Law enforcement and the school district are working to ensure that our kids remain safe in these increasingly difficult times. Remind your children to tell a teacher or a school resource officer if they see something that doesn’t seem quite right.
Some of the things that children should be alert for:
• Bragging about weapons
• Bullying or threatening behavior
• The sudden withdrawal of an individual from their normal social circles
• Talk of suicide
Please help the Sheriff’s Office make the 2018/2019 school year a fun, safe and happy one for our children!