School will be back in session on Tuesday, August 19th
School will be back in session on Tuesday, August 19th and we would like to remind everyone to watch out for school buses, slowdown in school zones, and to obey the school crossing guards. The traffic safety laws related to school zones ...and school buses are on the books to protect our children. At the Sheriff’s Office we take them very seriously and there is no leeway in their enforcement. We can all help keep our children safe if we will just pay attention and obey the law.
With that said, we would like to specifically address one question related to school busses that we are frequently asked each year. That question is when do you have to stop for a school bus traveling in the opposite direction and when is it ok to keep going.
According to section 316.172, Florida Statutes:
"(1)(a) Any person using, operating, or driving a vehicle on or over the roads or highways of this state shall, upon approaching any school bus which displays a stop signal, bring such vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped, and the vehicle shall not pass the school bus until the signal has been withdrawn. A person who violates this section commits a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.
(b) Any person using, operating, or driving a vehicle that passes a school bus on the side that children enter and exit when the school bus displays a stop signal commits a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318, and is subject to a mandatory hearing under the provisions of s. 318.19.
(2) The driver of a vehicle upon a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, a raised median, or a physical barrier is not required to stop when traveling in the opposite direction of a school bus which is stopped in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(3) Every school bus shall stop as far to the right of the street as possible and shall display warning lights and stop signals as required by rules of the State Board of Education before discharging or loading passengers. When possible, a school bus shall not stop where the visibility is obscured for a distance of 200 feet either way from the bus."
Ok, in plain language that means:
You must stop for a school bus that is going in the opposite direction and has flashing red lights and the stop arm extended – unless you are on a divided highway that has either a five-foot unpaved space such as a grass median or a physical barrier such as a concrete wall separating the roadways. If which case you should continue driving at a legal speed, but with an increased awareness that school-aged children are in the vicinity. If you are ever in doubt, the prudent thing to do is stop.
The current fines for speeding in a school zone are:
6-9 mph over - $153
10-14 mph over - $303
15-19 mph over - $403
20-29 mph over - $453
30+ mph over - Mandatory court appearance
The penalty for passing a stopped school bus is a mandatory court appearance, plus 4 points on your license.
Sheriff Jeff Hardy said “The really important thing to remember is that anywhere you see school buses, school zones, or school crossing guards then children will be in the area as well. We all know that children are unpredictable and are a danger to dart into traffic at any time. It’s your responsibility to slow down, watch out for them, and be prepared to stop with little or no warning if necessary. Please, just drive safely and help us keep the kids safe”.