A viral video of a Florida woman cheering on sheriff’s deputies and admonishing over a dozen motorists who were caught illegally passing a stopped school bus, illustrates the frustration of parents and safety leaders at the high rates of violations, and potential dangers.
Monica Douglas has posted several videos on Facebook this month that show a Pasco County Schools bus coming to a stop to pick up students in the morning on U.S. 19. One of the videos [Warning: graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised.] that was taken on Nov. 14, shows dozens of vehicles that continue driving down the highway past the stopped school bus—despite the federally-mandated stop arm extended and red lights flashing.
Unbeknownst to the motorists, two Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies are waiting to ticket them. The sheriff’s office also released footage from a body-mounted camera taken of the same bus stop that shows one of the deputies pursuing several motorists, while the other deputy blocks all lanes of U.S. 19 and directs multiple motorists to pull over to the side of the road.
School Transportation News reached out to Douglas for comment, but she had not responded at this writing. However, in several of the videos, she discusses the problem of illegal passers at the particular bus stop.
The Pasco County Schools was closed for Thanksgiving week, and STN sent an email to Director of Transportation Thaddeus Kledzik seeking more detail on the stop.
But the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office did answer STN questions about the stop in question and its recent week-long operation to ticket violators.
“We received citizen complaints of drivers passing stopped school buses while they were loading students in the morning and unloading students in the afternoon,” explained Kevin Doll, community relations director for the sheriff’s office. “We began an operation to monitor the areas on U.S. 19, [which is] one of the deadliest highways in Florida, where it was happening. As displayed in the videos, multiple cars were passing the stopped school buses.”
He said that deputies have issued numerous citations to drivers in the operation, which multiple news organizations reported. Deputies handed out 34 tickets on Nov. 14 alone.
“We wanted to increase awareness of the law for drivers, and reiterate the importance of student and vehicle safety in obeying the law. We believe that we reached our goal,” he added.
Doll said sheriff’s deputies will continue to monitor school bus stops “from time to time” as complaints are received.