Pasco lawmaker seeks to increase fines for passing a stopped school bus

‘No one is stopping for buses,’ Rep. Ardian Zika says.
[Carl Juste / Miami Herald file]
[Carl Juste / Miami Herald file]
Published August 9

Florida Rep. Ardian Zika wanted his message to get out as children across the state are getting ready to return to school.

Drivers need to heed the red flashing lights on the yellow buses stopping throughout their communities to pick up and drop off students, the Land O’Lakes Republican said.

To drive home the importance of the need, Zika filed legislation to stiffen the penalties for those who still choose to blow by.

His proposal would double the fine, to $400, for drivers who pass a bus that is boarding or releasing children. For a second violation within five years, the driver could face losing his or her license for two years — twice as long as law currently allows.

Failure to stop for a bus that doesn’t have its arm out would also see its penalties doubled.

“As a parent of five young children, it’s very important that we enhance safety for our children,” Zika said.

He referred to reports last spring of cars streaming by buses as parents complained, and shared videos with television stations.

“No one is stopping for buses,” he said. “Sheriff [Chris] Nocco and I talked. ... We just want to change the penalties to change behavior. We just can’t have this.”

Zika anticipated having bipartisan support for the measure, as well as a Senate companion. He planned to spend the weeks leading to September committee meetings working with other House members to get the bill moving.

The Legislature begins its 2020 session in January.

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