LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) – Switching into back-to-school mode can be hectic for families juggling new teachers, classes, homework, bedtimes and getting to school on time.
Janice Gamble, who takes care of her two grandkids, knows that first-hand. Monday she mastered getting them both to Dixieland Elementary School on time, but it wasn’t easy as 1-2-3. “We got up hustlin’ and bustling,” Gamble said. “Everybody was going everywhere, all directions in the house,” she laughed.
The rush that starts at home can easily carry over on the ride that helps you make the bell. Lakeland Fire Battalion Chief Mike Williams said for more than eight years the firefighters have held safety signs in front of Lakeland schools as they kick back the school year. And each time, they see more distracted drivers going through the school zones. Monday they gathered in front of Dixieland Elementary and talked to parents and students about staying safe on the road, while warning other drivers that school is back in session.
“Slow down, put your phone down, stop texting, we’re just looking to bring that awareness back to the school zone,” Williams said.
According to AAA, in 2013 Florida had the third highest rate of child pedestrian fatalities in the country and more than half of those happened during school transportation hours. Students can protect themselves, too. Eight On Your side has three things kids need to remember if traveling to and from school on their own. Students must use crosswalks, walk facing traffic, and bike with the flow of traffic.