LCSO applies a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on drivers at school bus stops

On a school day nearby a bus stop, a driver in a white SUV places a child’s life in danger. Video footage shows the person blatantly disregards a red stop sign that is perched on the side of the school bus.

As he or she speeds in the SUV through the crosswalk, a young boy with a backpack strapped on his shoulders looks on and pauses, a few steps away from the vehicle’s pathway.

It’s because of scenes like this on Fort Myers Beach that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is now cracking down on drivers at bus stops.

“The emphasis recently on some of the incidents that have happened here in the country brought a little more attention to people not paying attention to the busses,” Dennis Petracca said, a lieutenant in LCSO.

Through its new, “Safe Students. Safe Schools.,” initiative, LCSO is bringing down a larger presence to bus stops.

LCSO chose locations based on officer insight or complaints from citizens. “Once we’ve realized we have a problem area, we will work that area,” Petracca said. “We will set up in that area.”

To assert the severity of its mission to dissuade illegal passing, there is a zero-tolerance policy.

The fine is $266 and adds four points to the offender’s license. Should the man or woman become involved in a severe crash, with injuries or death, the consequences become more severe.

Parents said the initiative is necessary now, more than ever.

“The population is increasing in the snowbirds are coming,” Adrienne Smith said, a parent. “We definitely need to keep an eye out for them those kiddos.”

Lt. Dennis Petracca of Lee County Sheriff's Office. Photo via WINK News.
Lt. Dennis Petracca of Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Photo via WINK News.

“People should have consideration of little one’s lives,” Dayna Delacruz said, a parent, who also believes there is another problem. “Cell phone usage and people are just in a hurry to go nowhere.”

Petracca, a lieutenant in LCSO, said distractions like smartphones can be deadly for both the driver and pedestrians.

“That’s distraction can be so costly at the end of the day,” Petracca said. “You know obviously when you’re impacting, if a child is hit you know, it’s a bigger impact on the community in all.”

Reporter:Taylor Bisacky
Writer:Michael Mora
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