Deputies crack down on drivers passing school buses in Orange County

Drivers face $269 fine

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - As the new school year is getting underway, the Orange County Sheriff's Office is cracking down on drivers who illegally pass school buses picking up and dropping off students.

Deputies on Tuesday targeted drivers along Goldenrod Road between State Road 408 and Colonial Drive. The area has previously received several complaints about school bus law violations.

In February and May, deputies held similar traffic details where dozens of drivers were pulled over for passing a school bus that was picking up students.

During Tuesday's crackdown, 14 people were pulled over and cited for failing to stop.

"It's a hard lesson learned, but it's important for everybody to follow the rules," driver Jeremy Harnett said.

Florida law states that drivers in both directions must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal. The only exception allows drivers in the opposite direction to pass if there is a raised median, barrier or 5 feet of unpaved space between the vehicle and school bus.

"It's quite simple," Master Deputy Mike Johnson said. "Raised concrete median, you can go.  No concrete median whatsoever, please stop. It's all about kids' safety."

The stretch of Goldenrod Road that's part of Tuesday's crackdown does not have a median, but rather a center turn lane that separates four lanes of traffic.

Drivers pulled over for passing a stopped school bus face a $269 fine and four points on their license. It's a $369 fine for passing a stopped school bus on the entry/exit side, plus a mandatory court appearance.

While drivers were punished for not obeying the law on Tuesday, some others who complied with the law were rewarded with a gift card handed out by Sheriff John Mina.

"It's a good thing for the community and kind of reward that good behavior. And let's face it, we've got to keep our kids safe," Mina said.

Deputies said they plan to continue enforcing the stopped school bus law throughout the school year by targeting areas that receive complaints from parents and other drivers.

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