For parents of children attending the newly built Millenia Gardens Elementary in Orlando, back to school excitement is being met with some trepidation. The new elementary school, which is built along busy Millenia Boulevard, currently lacks a number of safety measures, including crosswalks and school zone speed limits.
The city of Orlando is putting temporary safety measures in place, such as crossing guards and digital message boards to warn motorists, but no permanent installations have been approved by the city’s Transportation Engineering Department. This is a concern to parents.
“The roads are very busy and dangerous too for the children,” one local parent said to News 6.
Orlando has in the past earned the unpleasant reputation for being one of the most dangerous places for pedestrians, leading some to say it’s important for Millenia Gardens and all schools in Orange County to make sure their pedestrian safety measures are doing enough to protect students.
Here are a few basic safety measures, recommended by various sources, that schools in Orlando should consider to keep child pedestrians safe while walking to, from, and around school.
High-visibility crosswalks are an effective safety measure that both warn motorists to expect pedestrian crossings and indicate to pedestrians the safest place to cross the street. Crosswalks located in a school zone must be combined with a fluorescent yellow school advance warning sign, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This provides maximum visibility to motorists, which in turn keeps students safe.
Another method for protecting child pedestrians by enhancing driver awareness near schools is to install pavement markings. Pavement markings such as “SCHOOL” and “SLOW SCHOOL X-ING” are used as a supplement to signs and are placed strategically around school zone crosswalks and stop signs to ensure that motorists slow down or stop for crossing students.
In our state, the pavement marking for schools must measure 8 feet by 9 feet 8 inches for optimal visibility, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
Reduced Speed Limit Signs
The speed limit is 20 mph or less around most Florida schools in order to prevent accidents and reduce the severity of any accidents that may occur. There is a 5 percent chance of fatality when hit by a vehicle moving at 20 mph compared to an 80 percent chance of fatality when hit by a car moving at 40 mph, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Signs should be placed around the school to warn motorists of the speed limit in the school zone. These signs can include flashing school speed limit signs, or speed limit signs that indicate the exact times when the school zone is in place. Speed feedback signs — that display the rate of speed for a given car for the public to see — can also be used to alert drivers to their actual speed and are effective when placed near speed limit signs ahead of the school.
Speed Limit Enforcement
In order to keep motorists driving at safe speeds within school zones, the fines are doubled in Florida for motorists exceeding the speed limit in a school zone, and can reach up to $555 for those speeding more than 30 mph over the limit. Requesting increased police presence near school zones, especially in school zones were speeding is a repeat offense, can help to further enforce the speed limit and deter risky driver behavior.
Until permanent safety measures are installed near the newly built Millenia Gardens Elementary, parents and students should be extra vigilant when walking to and from school and be sure to follow all directions given by crossing guards to avoid a car accident.
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