New penalties proposed for passing school buses illegally

FORT MYERS, Fla.- When it comes to passing school buses legally, Florida drivers are getting a failing grade.

A newly released report shows tens of thousands of people blew past school buses in Florida when they were stopped.

“It’s difficult, it’s very scary and I think it’s something that if it’s happening on a routine basis in Florida or any place, we should enforce the laws and do what we can to prevent it,” said Bone Bohn.

In a Florida Department of Education survey last October, 334 people in Lee County were caught passing school buses when the stop sign was out. In the same survey, Collier County had 216 violators, while Charlotte County had 68.

“I think they should be fined very heavily and I think it’s very life threatening for little kids,” said Bohn.

A statewide proposal called Gabby’s Law would raise awareness and the penalty for violators. Fines could go up to $500 for the first offense and the driver could end up in jail. The consequences for a second offense go up to $1,000 in fines and six months jail time.

In the meantime, Lee County is keeping on your children’s safety by installing cameras to keep an eye on how drivers react to school buses.

“We had two cameras mounted on buses and we ran the cameras for about six months. And during that six months, we had 81 stop violations on those two buses,” said Robert Morgan, executive director of Lee County Transportation Services.

Parents say it’s up to drivers to make sure they keep a look out at all time.

“They don’t know if those kids are going to get off the bus and walk in front of the bus, or walk the other way,” said Bohn.

Lawmakers are still debating the increased penalties for passing a school bus. One state senator said he’s willing to sponsor the bill, but another lawmaker needs to join him to push the bill forward.