Thursday, December 14, 2017
Editorials

Crack down on Pasco drivers who pass stopped school buses

Every school day bright yellow school buses transport 35,000 children to and from 78 traditional public schools across Pasco County. Turns out, some of those students are at risk from hundreds of ignorant, aggressive or distracted drivers who routinely pass by stopped buses' standard safety features: red flashing lights and extended mechanical arms that say "Stop.''

A Pasco School District survey, conducted by bus drivers on May 7, recorded 590 instances of motorists failing to yield to buses stopped to load or discharge children. It is an alarming number that mirrors poor driving patterns across the state. A 2011 national report said nearly 9,000 so-called stop-arm violations occur each school day in Florida.

Florida law states that when the stop arm is extended, motorists must stop and remain stopped until the arm is withdrawn. The law is applicable to all motorists traveling behind the bus. Drivers approaching from the opposite direction also must stop unless they are traveling on a road divided by a raised median or 5 feet of unpaved space.

The law's purpose is simple: Saving lives. The law ensures children have a safe path to travel when leaving or approaching a bus. Children being children, however, means youngsters don't always look out for their own safety before stepping into a road.

That is why it is imperative for adult motorists sharing the road with school buses to share the burden of responsibility for children's safety. The one-day survey, however, indicates hundreds of motorists believe their own schedules trump that responsibility.

Several years ago, the epidemic of irresponsible drivers brought stepped-up enforcement in Tarpon Springs. There, police personnel, equipped with videocameras, rode school buses to record motorists' violations. Officers stationed nearby in unmarked vehicles then issued the citations.

It is appalling that motorists fail to put a higher premium on children's safety, but the Pasco survey shows red flashing lights and stop bars aren't enough. The school district has asked for help and law enforcement should oblige.

Over the past 15 months, the Pasco Sheriff's Office issued 92 citations to drivers failing to stop for buses. Routinely, the agency steps up school-related traffic enforcement on the first day of class each August. Including today, there are 14 class days remaining in the 2011-2012 school year.

Considering the abandon with which motorists are ignoring the stopped bus warnings, it would be wise to re-enforce safety standards near bus stops and schools.

The bus drivers' observations recorded in the district survey show the closing days of the school year can be just as hazardous as the beginning.

Comments

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17