It is hard to believe that it is back to school time already. After just a minute or two on the drive to work today, I could see that traffic is coming to a grinding halt. Flashing school zones and school buses clog my route to work which triples my daily commute from ten minutes to a half hour.
Back to School Safety
I have two children, my son Nory who just started middle school and my daughter Sara Rose, who just started high school. Nory still gets dropped off, but Sara Rose takes a school bus each day to her school. This got me thinking about back to school safety for Florida’s school children as we place them in the hands of school bus drivers. Those bus drivers, however well-qualified or experienced, are still exposed to the safety risks posed by Florida’s streets and other drivers. According to the Florida Department of Education, over 21,000 drivers illegally pass school buses on a single day. That means that over 3.7 million possible violations occur during our 180-day school year. Each illegal pass can result in a tragic injury or fatality of a child.
Passing a Stopped School Bus in Florida is Illegal
I want to prevent these safety risks from happening – and for my daughter’s safety and for the safety of everyone’s children – I would like to share the following safety advice:
Florida law Section 316.172 requires that any person driving a car or truck must stop when approaching a school bus with a displayed stop sign and warning light. One cannot drive pass a stopped school bus until the stop sign has been completely withdrawn. Violating this law is considered a moving violation. Passing on the side that the children while the stop signals and lights are flashing requires a mandatory hearing in front of a traffic court magistrate pursuant to Florida Statute 318.19.
How Much is a Traffic Ticket For Passing a School Bus in Florida?
The amount of a traffic ticket in Florida for passing a school bus depends upon whether or not the driver passed on the right or left side and if it was their first offense as well as if it is the first offense or not. According to Florida Statutes Section 318.18 the following penalties apply:
Left Hand Passing a School Bus:
- 1st offense: $165
- 2nd or subsequent offense (within 5 years): $165 plus license suspension for 90 days to 6 months
Right Hand Passing a School Bus:
- 1st offense: $265
- 2nd or subsequent offense (within 5 years): $265, license suspension for 180 days to one year, plus a mandatory hearing
Texting while Driving is Now Illegal in Florida
Lastly, Florida has finally enacted a new texting law. I wrote about this in my recent blog for the Huffington Post: Florida Finally Bans Texting and Driving. Which for some inexplicable reason our legislation did not think it was important enough to start before our children go back to school. As a lawyer for injured children in Miami I strongly recommend that we all stop texting and driving now, rather than wait for the law to into effect.
If you have any safety tips for back to school please leave them in the comments below.