Once again, zero crossing guards or students were injured during the 2014-2015 school year.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s 22nd Annual School Crossing Guard and Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon was held on May 27, 2015, to let these unsung heroes know how much they are appreciated. Hundreds of crossing guards and many JSO officers attended the luncheon. Sheriff John Rutherford and other officers presented plaques, badges, and pins to school crossing guards with 5, 10, 15, 20, and 35 years of service.
Sheriff Rutherford thanked Attorney Wayne Hogan, president of the Terrell • Hogan law firm, for once again sponsoring the luncheon and, for the fourth year in a row, donating reflective gloves to help keep the school crossing guards safe as they do their important work.
We sometimes forget about the great work done by school crossing guards every morning and afternoon to safely get Jacksonville’s students to and from school in the heat, cold, and rain. When students are arriving or leaving schools, there’s more traffic. School buses and parents are entering and leaving the school grounds. Children are also arriving on foot or bicycle. Another factor is that usually drivers are in a hurry or preoccupied with their personal schedules.
I had an opportunity to speak with several of the crossing guards about the important job they perform. It was very clear that they all love the work they do and care about the safety and well-being of the students. When I asked, what can be done to make their job safer, they all agreed that drivers need to pay attention while driving and better understand school zone laws. A few even suggested a new law that could make it even safer in school zones.
In Florida, special speed limit signs are posted around schools to alert drivers they are entering and/or leaving a school zone. The speed limit in a school zone can be 15mph to 20mph, so it is important to abide by the noted speed limit. Some, but not all, school zones have yellow flashing lights; therefore, it is very important to pay attention while driving especially in unfamiliar areas. Also, some school zones have signs stating no right turns on red lights during school zone hours.
The school crossing guards have noticed that too many drivers are texting or talking on their cell phones while driving in school zones. It is against the law to text and drive anywhere in Florida. One crossing guard suggested implementing a law as in Texas (TTC §545.425) that prohibits all drivers from using handheld devices while in school zones.
We should all pay close attention to school zones and follow the directions of the school crossing guards. They have an important job to do and all drivers should make it as safe as possible for students to get to and from school.