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 August 13th, 2013  
St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara cautions motorists to be especially careful when school starts Monday
 
Monday is the first day of school in St. Lucie County, and Sheriff Ken J. Mascara is cautioning motorists to be especially careful of school children and school busses.

"The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office will have a number of protective actions in place for the start of school Monday," Sheriff Mascara said, "but it is up to every motorist, every student and every parent to be careful so we can avoid accidents."

Sheriff's Deputies' actions will include:

- Posting electronic  message boards reminding county motorists of approaching start of school

- Deputies from the Traffic Unit and School Resource Deputy Unit will be patrolling school zones looking for people speeding in school zones, people not wearing safety belts and people failing to ensure that their children do not commit other unsafe driving actions near the schools.

- Patrol deputies will be monitoring busses and patrolling bus stops. They will also be patrolling campuses and schools zones with a focus on drivers who illegally pass school buses and speed in school zones.

- School Resource Deputies will be attending school open houses giving reflectors and reflective back-packs to enhance early morning low light safety.

Sheriff Mascara reminds motorists that they should exercise a heightened awareness in and around a school zone, hazards are much easier to recognize when driving at or below the school zone speed limit. Special attention should also be given to buses displaying flashing red lights when on an undivided roadway. In these instances, drivers are required by state law to stop and wait until the flashing red lights are turned off before passing a bus.

Motorists should follow these safety practices:

-When approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and its stop arms extended, motorists are required to STOP in nearly every instance.

-Be alert and watch for children at all times, but especially near schools, bus stops, school buses, and in school parking lots.

-Obey all traffic laws and speed limits, paying extra attention to the lower speed limits in school zones.

-Do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks.

-Do not change lanes or make U-turns in school zones.

-Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.

-Do not text or use a cell phone while driving.

-Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.

At the School Bus Stop:

-Arrive at the bus stop about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Parents and student should discuss and practice the safest way to get to and from school or the assigned school bus stop. Student should never run out into the street or cross between parked cars.

-Follow instructions from your bus driver or the school district about where to wait at your assigned bus stop.

-Wait in a safe place away from the road.

-Do not run and play while waiting for the bus to arrive.

-Never sit on the roadway while waiting for your bus.

-Never speak to strangers at the bus stop and never get into the car with a stranger. Always tell your parents, the bus driver, or another responsible adult as soon as possible if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.

Loading or Unloading from the Bus:

-As the bus is approaching, watch for the red flashing lights and the stop arms to extend.

-If crossing the street, look left, right, and left again. When the driver signals that it is safe, walk at least 12 feet in front of the bus where the driver can see you.

-Never walk behind the school bus.

-Never run after the bus.

-Hold the handrail while going up and down the stairs.

-Go directly to your bus seat and remain seated during the entire ride.

-Exit the bus only at your assigned bus stop.

-If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up first, because the driver may not be able to see you.

-Parents or guardians of small children should wait with them in the morning and meet them at the bus stop in the afternoon.

Riding in the School Bus:

-Keep hands, arms, and head inside bus.

-Always buckle up properly if your school bus has safety belts.

-Stay in your seat and obey the driver.

-Remain seated at all times and keep the aisle clear.

-Stop talking and remain silent when the bus comes to a railroad crossing so the driver can hear if a train is approaching.

-Avoid any loud or disruptive behavior that could distract the bus driver from safely operating the bus.

-Be courteous and respectful to your driver. Safely getting you to and from school is a tremendous responsibility that the driver takes very seriously.

-Keep hands, arms, and head inside bus.

-Always buckle up properly if your school bus has safety belts.

-Stay in your seat and obey the driver.

-Remain seated at all times and keep the aisle clear.

-Stop talking and remain silent when the bus comes to a railroad crossing so the driver can hear if a train is approaching.

-Avoid any loud or disruptive behavior that could distract the bus driver from safely operating the bus.

-Be courteous and respectful to your driver. Safely getting you to and from school is a tremendous responsibility that the driver takes very seriously.

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