EDUCATION: Florida is dealing with one of the highest rates of pedestrian injuries

Florida is dealing with one of the highest rates of pedestrian injuries in the nation and yet the School Board of Alachua County currently has elementary school children waiting for buses along highways.  They are merely a few feet away from cars traveling from 45-55 mph.

The 2004-2008 Pedestrian Accident Map indicates multiple pedestrian accidents along Highway #24 / Archer Road and yet at least 27 children stand and wait for the bus endangering their lives on a daily basis.  The answer is simple — alter the school bus route into the neighboring Mentone neighborhood.  Cars are mandated to travel at 25 mph and the amount of pedestrian accidents is significantly lower.

In October 2005, because of budget ramifications to fuel cost increases, Mr. Eubank, requested that the existing bus routes and busing policies be examined to ensure buses are being used most efficiently (School Board Meeting Minutes for October 4, 2005). Unfortunately, the decisions that ensued contradict the Transportation department’s objective in The School Board of Alachua County Florida Transportation Department Book I Basic Procedures, “The major objective of the Transportation Department of the School Board of Alachua County is to safely and promptly transport eligible students to and from school on a regularly scheduled basis” (3).  These children are not SAFELY transported to and from school.

The School Board of Alachua County endorses the Crosswalk Safety Program in a joint initiative with the Gainesville Police Department, the University of Florida Police Department and the Alachua Sheriff’s Office “to make the streets safer for everyone” (Gainesville Police Department Crosswalk Safety Brochure) and yet they force a vast number children to stand on a highway waiting for the bus.

On July 20 at the Alachua County School Board Meeting, a group of concerned parents, lead by Bryn Willis, will be addressing the school board to ask for a change in bus patterns.  Your support and coverage will be greatly appreciated.

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