1. Florida

Florida lawmakers move closer to changing rules for walking to school

Published Apr. 10, 2014

With depressing regularity, Florida school students get killed walking to school.

They're crossing busy roads, often in the dark, or walking along the side of a road without sidewalks. And as lawmakers see this happen in their communities, they want to change laws relating to hazardous walking routes to schools.

The House Education Committee on Thursday unanimously blessed legislation that would make it easier for school districts to designate hazardous conditions and provide transportation, even if the students live closer than 2 miles from campus. If districts cannot get needed improvements into county plans, they would report them to the state.

"Any child that loses a life, anyone that loses a life because of hazardous walking conditions, or even is hurt in any way, it's just not right, not in our state," said Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, in support of the legislation by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha.

Rep. Vic Torres, D-Orlando, said the Legislature should put more "muscle" into the bill by funding needed road improvements. Metz said he was hopeful that counties and districts would act on identified sites, and the state collection of data on unattended conditions would encourage local improvements.

"I think we're actually going to create some results," he said.

A Senate version of the bill has unanimously passed two committees and is next assigned to the Appropriations Committee.

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