UPDATE NOVEMBER 8, 2023:
Leon County Commissioner, Brian Welch, shared an update on the project Wednesday afternoon. On Facebook, he posted, "we are happy to announce that the new school zone designation for Chiles High School, along Thomasville Rd. will be installed and completed ahead of schedule by November 13th."
Read more about the change in his Facebook post and previously reported story below:
- A portion of Thomasville Road near Chiles High School will become a school zone as a result of accidents since the beginning of the school year.
- The area will also be getting a light at Rhea Lane.
- One local parent says this will help. Another says more needs to be done to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
Road safety has become a concern for parents at one local high school.
Parents with students at Chiles High School say the traffic is dangerous at the intersection coming into the school.
Some solutions are on the horizon.
Lisel Laslie's daughter drives each morning to Chiles High.
"The school's amazing," Laslie said. "The staff is amazing."
The one downside:
"The traffic in the morning is unlike anything you have probably seen," Laslie said.
Traffic that leads to:
"This as simple as just rear ending to someone plowing into the side of a car," Laslie said.
Those accidents prompting FDOT to put a school zone in the area.
The speed limit will remain the same, but the goal of the zone will be to raise more awareness for the entrance.
The zone will also double the price of speeding tickets.
"It's frightening, it's scary. A lot of them, their first driving experience is to Chiles," said Leon County Commissioner Brian Welch.
Welch, who is also a teacher at Chiles, headed up the effort to get the new school zone, as well as a light that will go in at Rhea Lane.
"Getting a designation as a school zone in front of Chiles will certainly help," Welch said.
Another local parent said there is another piece of the puzzle needed for a solution.
"The big thing is really education," said local parent Tom Paterson.
Paterson, a local father of four, also works as an auto insurance agent.
He said the number of car accidents has gone up since 2020 and teaching young drivers awareness on the road is key.
"We're getting some traffic lights and infrastructure improvements that are coming. That's just band aid," Paterson said. "We're seeing more and more distracted drivers. It's those distractions that lead directly to accidents."
He said defensive driving should be emphasized at school and at home.
"Slow down, put the phone away, pay attention and have situational awareness around you about other drivers as well," Paterson said.
Laslie agreed that education is important.
"Kids today are a little different. There's a lot of them that are very staunch about not texting and driving, not picking up their phone while driving," Laslie said. "You still have to educate them all as to what those dangers can be."
She said she will feel more safe sending her daughter to school with a school zone on Thomasville Road.
"School zone makes people have to slow down," Laslie said. "Usually, there's police hanging around most school zones."
The school zone will be in place by the time students return from winter break.