BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Bells will sound all across South Florida Monday morning, ringing in the start of a new school year and, if you happened to be listening to the radio Wednesday morning, you may have heard Broward Sheriff Scott Israel talking about school safety.
The topic of when drivers are supposed to stop for a school bus came up and caused confusion for some listeners.
Each year, Florida drivers illegally pass school buses two million times.
Student Madison Hoening said she has seen drivers who ignore a stopped school bus picking up or dropping off children.
“There are drivers who are being impatient and speed past the bus and it threatens the safety of younger students taking the bus,” Hoening said.
Sheriff Israel spoke on the Jimmy Cefalo radio show, reminding drivers to be alert as the start of the school years means drivers will once again be sharing the road with buses.
“So in other words, if there’s a median there and that bus stops on the other side of the road going opposite of you but it puts those flashing lights on and those little signs come up, you gotta stop on your side of the road too in case a kid is crossing all the way right?” Cefalo asked Sheriff Israel.
“Right. The eight or nine-year-old kids, they are the last people who are going to obey these traffic rules or be cognizant of them, you know, they just got out of school or going to school and they are running and playing so we gotta take caution,” Sheriff Israel said on the radio.
CBS4 checked with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to clarify the exact school bus safety laws.
Drivers must stop behind a stopped bus, and if the road is divided, oncoming traffic has to stop as well. Even if there are multiple lanes in-between the bus and opposite traffic, drivers still have to stop.
But, if there is a median or physical barrier, drivers are not required to stop when traveling in the opposite direction.
The sheriff, who said there will be extra deputies on patrol Monday for the first day of school, acknowledged the above rules are correct.
“If there is a barrier, you don’t have to stop but it’s good to err on the side of caution,” said Sheriff Israel.
Drivers, in case you forgot, take note: if you ignore the sign on the back of school buses, you will be fined hundreds of dollars. If you go around a bus that is stopped with flashing lights—where kids are being dropped off—you will get a ticket and a mandatory court date.
Parent Lydia Cavaleiro said she never minds stopping for a school bus.
“It’s for the safety of the children, whether you wait two more seconds, you are watching for the kids,” said Cavaleiro.