Laura Williams and Andrew Gant
Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations
THINK ‘SAFETY’ AS SCHOOL STARTS THIS MORNING IN VOLUSIA COUNTY
The first day of school is here, and Sheriff Chitwood and the Volusia Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone – drivers, parents and students – not to take safety for granted as classes resume this morning in Volusia County.
Drivers: It’s time to get back in the habit of slowing down and paying close attention to your surroundings as more kids will be on the roads and sidewalks all over Volusia County. That means no texting and driving. No distracted driving, period.
The same important advice goes for students: If you’re distracted by your phone and you walk in front of a moving vehicle, the driver may not have enough time to stop. You could be injured or killed. That text message or post is not worth risking your life.
Drivers, the moment you look down at your phone might be the exact moment a child steps into your path. Don’t make a mistake you have to live with for the rest of your life.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is working to make this a safe school year for everyone. Overall, we have about 63,000 students at more than 70 public schools in Volusia County. Drivers need to be careful at every one of them and prepare to slow down in school zones. Watch out for unpredictable children who might dart out in the street.
We’ll have deputies out in school zones across the county to enforce traffic laws, such as: When children or crossing guards are in a crosswalk, drivers must stop at the marked stop line. If you’re not picking up or dropping off a child at school, avoid school zones if possible.
We’ll also be watching for drivers passing school buses when they’re stopped. It's illegal to pass a bus on an undivided roadway if the vehicle is stopped to load or unload children.
And in case you’ve forgotten: If the highway is divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least 5 feet wide, drivers don’t have to stop if they’re moving in the opposite direction of the bus.
This is the second year that Florida law requires armed security on every school campus. When school starts Monday in Volusia County, every school will have an armed guardian, deputy or municipal police officer on campus. These school guardians, who are employees of Volusia County Schools and not sworn law enforcement officers, have received training from the Volusia Sheriff’s Office.
This year, we have 59 school guardians in place. In addition, nine School Resource Deputies and many other municipal police officers are serving Volusia’s schools, including alternative sites and charter schools.
The Sheriff’s Office urges parents to take time to talk to kids about the importance of safety, and to familiarize them with the safest route to school – whether that involves a bus stop, a bicycle or a walk.
It’s more vital than ever for students and drivers to be aware of each other throughout our community. Never assume a driver sees you because if the driver’s distracted, the result can be tragic. Please use extra caution in school zones and watch for students traveling to and from school.
And please, put away phones, iPods, gaming devices and other electronics while you’re on the move. Don’t text and drive – and if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist, don’t text and travel! These technologies have introduced an added layer of distraction that can put you in harm’s way in an instant. Just don’t do it.
Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for America’s teenagers. The Volusia Sheriff’s Office offers a Teen Driving Challenge that trains teenage drivers to avoid deadly traffic crashes. For more information about this eight-hour course, visit volusiasheriff.org.
Let’s make this a safe, healthy year for everyone!