While it doesn’t feel like it outside, summer is coming to an end for thousands of students in the Tampa Bay area.
Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough County schools all start classes this week, which means we can expect yellow school buses to return to our streets and morning and afternoon school crossings to resume too.
School Zone Speed Limits
It’s important to keep an eye out for school zones and obey the posted lower speed limits. Fines are doubled for this moving violation and you will receive points against your license for this offense.
Bus Stop Laws
Florida Statute 316.172 states that you must come to a full stop when approaching a school bus which displays a stop signal, and you may not pass until the signal has been withdrawn. If you violate this statute you are committing a moving violation and are required to attend a mandatory hearing before the court.
When a school bus is displaying a stop signal on a two lane road or multi-lane road with no divide in the roadway, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop until the bus has ended the stop signal.
When a school bus is displaying a stop signal on a divided highway where there is a 5-foot or greater unpaved area between the lanes, a raised median, or a physical barrier, vehicles heading in the same direction as the bus must stop, but vehicles traveling in the opposite direction are not required to stop.
If convicted of passing a stopped school bus, you will pay a fine between $165.00 and $265.00 depending on whether you pass on the side of the bus where children enter or exit. You will also receive four points on your license and be required to complete a driver improvement course.
Additionally, on January 1, 2017, the Cameron Mayhew Act took effect in Florida, which increased the minimum penalty for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus resulting in the injury or death of another person. Penalties for this offense include a $1,500.00 fine, six points on your driver’s license, 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital, participation in a victim’s impact panel session or if one does not exist attendance at an approved driver improvement course, and suspension of your license for a minimum of 1 year.
Of course, the human impact of failing to obey school zone and school bus safety laws is far greater than the financial and legal implications. Imagine if was your child walking to that school or riding that bus. How would you want others to drive around them?
Hopefully you’ll never need a personal injury attorney or motor vehicle accident attorney in Trinity because of an incident in a school zone or with a school bus, but if you do or if you have any questions related to these laws, please call my office, the Law Office of Charles S. Philips.
Let’s be vigilant, stay focused on the road and our surroundings, slow down in school zones and school crossings and stop for school buses that are loading or unloading children.
Be safe out there!