AAA applauds Florida legislators for strengthening the penalty for endangering students at the bus stop. The School Bus Safety Bill doubles fines for illegally passing a stopped school bus while displaying a stop signal.
With this passage, the penalty increases from $100 to $200. If there is a second violation within five years, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) may also suspend the offender’s driver’s license for 6-12 months.
The bill also raises the penalty from $200 to $400 for passing a school bus on the side where children enter and exit the vehicle. The DHSMV may also suspend the offender’s driver’s license for 1-2 years, if there is a second violation within five years.
AAA Survey of Floridians:
- 89% of Floridians support this bill.
- 18% believe it is legal to pass a school bus that is stopped on a 2-lane road with flashing lights and its stop sign extended.
“Drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus are either in a hurry or just don’t understand the variables of the law; either way, this is a reckless act that endangers Florida’s children,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “AAA supports this new bill which will hopefully encourage drivers to fully understand the rules of the road and keep our children safe.”
According to DHSMV, in Fiscal Year 2018-2019:
- 3,760 traffic citations were issued for failing to stop for a school bus or passing a stopped school bus.
- 38 citations were issued for passing a school bus on the side children enter and exit.
Number of Illegal School Bus Passes in a Single Day
According to a Department of Education survey of more than 10,000 Florida school bus drivers, there were allegedly 12,749 illegal passes of school busses on a single day in 2019. Of these illegal passes:
- 526 were made on the right side of the bus where children generally enter and exit the vehicle.
- 11,316 were made on the left side of the bus.
- 526 of the passes were not defined.
Pedestrians in School Bus-Related Crashes
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2007-2016:
- 98 school-age pedestrians (18 and younger) died in school-transportation-related crashes.
- 60% were struck by school buses.
- 2% were struck by vehicles functioning as school buses.
- 38% were struck by other vehicles involved in the crashes.
“AAA would like to especially thank the sponsors of this legislation, Senator Ed Hooper, Representative Ardian Zika and Representative Emily Slosberg on the passage of this bill,” Jenkins said.
School Bus Safety Tips for Motorists
- Be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses and in school parking lots.
- Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present in school zones and residential areas.
- Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended. (See the different situations in the diagram below).
School Bus Traffic Laws Explained
- Two Lane Street – All drivers moving in either direction on a two-way street must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn.
- Multi-Lane Paved Median – All drivers moving in either direction must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn.
- Divided Highway – Traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic. However, these motorists should slow down and watch for students loading or unloading from the bus.