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 deputy’s body-mounted camera recorded at 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.
Douglas told School Transportation News that she has taken 10 to 15 videos of illegal passers at the bus stop since the beginning of the current school year. “I videotape every morning, and if I can make it to the bus stop in the evening [I] videotape them as well,” she said.
The Pasco County Schools District 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, 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.