Crashes a stark reminder for students, families

Posted at 5:18 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 17:18:19-04
Two students are recovering after being hit by cars while trying to get to school.  The victims were a 16-year-old on a bike in Pasco County and a 16-year-old on foot in Hernando County.  The crashes are bringing to light important lessons for all students and families.
As school buses line up for the end of the day, students are anxious to run out the doors and get home.  In the hustle and bustle, students say a lot of drivers, go way too fast, and kids aren’t paying attention.
“Everybody that drives a car is pretty much guilty of not paying attention at one time or another, and it is up to the driver the pedestrian, too, to pay attention,” said student Nicholas Wrage.
Not watching, and breaking basic traffic rules, are usually what cause crashes, and the Tampa Bay region, has among the highest crash rates for pedestrians and cyclists in the nation.  Officers say a lot of times, cyclists and pedestrians end up being at fault.
“We have an operation safe school initiative where we are going out to each and every school bus stop and road area imitating traffic control, doing stops, and educating on pedestrian and bicycle safety.  In doing so, we hope to drum down accidents.  We can’t catch them all, but we do our best,” said Cpl. Byran Mobley, school resource officer at Wesley Chapel High School.
Officers took their message of safety with F-DOT and Pasco County Schools to students at Wesley Chapel High School Tuesday, and their talk, couldn’t be more timely, after two students were hit by cars just hours earlier.
“I absolutely watch to make sure all the cars, I know where they’re all at, so they know where I’m at, and definitely using my lights and know my surroundings,” said student Spencer Brass.
All of those are critical steps.  Cyclists and walkers should also wear bright clothing.  Walk with traffic, and ride against it.  Stay on sidewalks when possible.
Students at Wesley Chapel High School are also taking action by sending around a petition to get Wells Road in front of their school widened to make it safer.
“It’s very serious, and our primary goal is to keep kids safe,” said Cpl. Mobley.
Crossing guards can also help keep kids safe in school zones.  In Pasco County, though, they’re only on duty at elementary schools due to budget constraints.  That makes it even more important for everyone do to their part in following the rules of the road.