For a group of about a half dozen Charlotte County deputies, the day begins before the sun comes up. They are at the Charlotte County Sheriffs Office to coordinate an operation to stop drivers who disregard the laws regarding School Buses that are stopped to pick up students on the side of the road.
Deputies like David Sonne are heading out to the east end of Charlotte County to escort some of the local school buses and watch for drivers who violate those laws. "The county actually did a survey on a day last month throughout the whole county and they found that throughout the county on that particular day there were 70 violations" Said Sonne as he sat in his cruiser in the pre dawn hours on State Road 31 as he waited for School Buses to collect students.
Over the last 14 years, 4 students in Florida have been killed by motorists passing buses illegally, "For the safety of the children we cant have cars passing the bus when children crossing the street to get on the bus" said Sonne.
We rode with the deputies for several hours in the east area of Charlotte County, following a number of buses. Deputies paid close attention to drivers as the buses pulled over to collect students. Fines for disregarding School Bus traffic laws range from $266 to $500 depending on the infraction. Despite several hours of vigilance, the deputies spotted no one breaking the law today
"Were not going to stop looking and were not going to stop doing our operation because we did not get anything this morning" said Sonne as they wrapped up the detail.
Just in case you were wondering, the Sheriffs Office is not taking the patrols lightly, they are not writing any warnings-just moving violations.