It’s that time of year again – time for all vehicles to be on the lookout for children going back to school in Saint Petersburg and everywhere else in Florida. It is extremely important for motorists to watch for children crossing roadways near schools and always watch for a school bus. An intersection with or without a crossing guard can still be extremely dangerous for children. Even when being driven in a school bus, parents have to be aware of the possibility of a collision with another vehicle while children are en-route to school.
SCHOOL BUS COLLISIONS
An accident involving a vehicle and a school bus occurred on August 17 in Pine Hills, Orange County, FL at the intersection of Silver Star Road and Willow Bend Boulevard. It was not immediately known if there were students on this bus but two people were transported with injuries. In January 2017, three accidents involving school buses happened in one day, all three involving Pinellas County schools. One involved a collision with an SUV. Thankfully, no students were injured in any of these collisions. One incident involved the driver of a school bus failing to stop at a stop sign. In one of the other two accidents, a school bus driver was arrested on DUI charges. The third incident involved a bus running into a pole after it was struck by a car.
STUDENTS WORKING TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS
Sit up and take notice of Makayla Trowell, a 14-year-old girl who wrote a letter to 8 On Your Side because she was very concerned about the traffic speeds outside her school. The road in question for Trowell was in front of Crews Lake Middle School. Upon further inspection by Leslee Lacey, a WFLA traffic reporter, it was discovered that, besides speeders near the school, there was no traffic light and no “School Zone” sign along the busy road. There was only a “suggested” speed limit sign of 35 mph along the road in question, Shady Hills Road. There is also a “blind curve” that can be another cause of trouble for the area. Reporter Lacey clocked drivers at 64 mph during school hours with her Speed Busters radar gun.
Further investigation showed that at least 13 crashes had been recorded in that area within a one-year period. When Leslee Lacey addressed these concerns with Pasco County Traffic Operations Manager, David Skrelunas, he “told Leslee one of the reasons the school lacked a designated school zone was because it’s entrance was not directly on Shady Hills Road. However, Leslee found there is a designated school zone on nearby Hudson Avenue, yet the school entrance is not along Hudson Avenue.”
Thanks to Makayla Trowell’s letter and the follow-up of WFLA Traffic Reporter Leslee Lacey, the Pasco County Traffic Operations Department decided to create a designated school zone in that area. Now, there is a flashing “School Zone” sign that tells drivers not to go over 15 mph during school hours. Fines for abuse of that law have also been doubled. Makayla is very excited as she was greatly concerned about the safety and well-being of her school friends. Speed Busters radar gun wielder and traffic reporter Lacey have since been back to the scene and discovered that the sign has, indeed, made a difference and the speeds of vehicles passing through that area have been greatly reduced.
ONE VOICE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Makayla Trowell has realized through this encounter that she did, in fact, effect change and that one voice can make a difference. Trowell’s story should give us all hope and a new determination to try to implement change where it is most needed. Makayla has since been honored by her school, as well as Pasco County, for her resolve to make a difference.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a vehicle accident in St. Petersburg, contact a personal injury lawyer to determine your rights for recourse as a result of that accident.