Whenever a motorist comes upon a school zone, there are certain safety precautions that must be obeyed. The speed limit is reduced to 15 m.p.h; there is a crosswalk; there is a crossing guard; and, of course, there are children. However, even with these safety precautions, accidents still occur. Unfortunately for one Florida sixth-grader, he was a victim of an accident in a school zone.
Michael Salamon's life changed forever last September when a Cadillac hit the boy when he stepped onto a two-lane, tree-lined avenue. The sixth-grader from River Springs Middle School received a concussion and a broken left femur in the accident. Unfortunately, the break occurred on a growth plate, which means the boy could face more surgeries and may have to give up Little League, stated his mother, Andrea Waddell.
Twenty-seven students either going to or coming home from school have been hit in Volusia County this academic year. Two students out of the twenty-seven have died from their injuries.
School officials are working to lower these accidents. They have rerouted crosswalks, new sidewalks have been built, streetlights have been installed, and the sheriff's office and city police have written warnings and tickets for motorists who speed in school zones.
Even though school officials have studied the accidents, they are hard-pressed to come up with one foolproof solution.
Volusia board member Candace Lankford has said that we are scratching our heads and wondering why in the world has all of this happened? Most of the accidents, ten, have happened in Orange City.
Transportation Director, Greg Akin, said he reviewed safety measures after the first two crashes at Silver Sands Middle School. To keep students from cutting between buses, the district installed fencing which forced students to use a crosswalk. The district also made this change an another middle school.
More changes are in store for the district. Before students return in August, the bus loop and parent drop-off/pickup drive will be switched, so parents' vehicles are farther away from kids walking to and from school.
Since this is the first year records have been kept on students being struck by vehicles, officials don't really know if there is an increase in this type of accident. According to Nancy Wait, the district's director of community information services, the high number of accidents are "an anomaly."
School administrators, parents and area officials have been meeting in the hopes of finding ways to make school routes safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Also, school officials have increased safety messages to the students of the district in hopes of reducing these accidents between motor vehicles and students.