As students head back to school the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has launched its Child Safety Awareness Month campaign.

Along with its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and safety partners throughout the state FLHSV will be working to educate and engage Florida’s parents, caregivers, and motorists on the importance of safe driving.

“Safety is always a priority, and when it comes to our kids, the best way to teach them safety is to practice it,” said Florida Highway Patrol Colonel Gary Howze. “Kids learn from watching those around them, and when they observe a parent or loved one engaging in safe practices, they are more likely to do the same.”

The FLHSMV said 119,903 children aged 0 to 17 were involved in a crash in Florida last year as either a passenger, driver, or pedestrian, resulting in 1,220 serious bodily injuries and 156 fatalities.

Almost 30 percent of child passengers killed in vehicle crashes in the state were not wearing any type of restraint.

FLHSMV strongly recommends seat belt usage for all ages and as children return to the classroom the organization is urging drivers to make sure children are buckled up and using the correct car seat.

FLHSMV has also issued the following safety advice to motorists:

  • Stop for school buses and slowdown in school zones. Be alert and watch for children, especially near schools, bus stops, buses, and parking lots. Pay extra attention to the lower speed limits in school zones. Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.

Move safely together – look out before you step out. Always walk on the sidewalk if there is one. If no sidewalks are present, walk against the traffic direction so you can see oncoming vehicles. Cross the roadway where pedestrians are expected, at corners or crosswalks, and watch for traffic when crossing the street.