During National School Bus Safety Week, a new coaltion announced it is seeking to increase student safety around school bus stops by targeting the "epidemic of drivers" in the state who ignore stop arms on school buses while driving.
The grassroots Florida Stop Arm Safety Coalition (FSASC) pointed to a study conducted in April by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in conjunction with the Florida Department of Education that indicates there are 21,000 recorded incidents of drivers illegally passing school buses every day. This results in 3.7 million possible violations by Florida motorists in the 180-day school year.
The group also quoted Greg Akin, executive director of the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation and director of transportation at Volusia County Schools, that something more must be done to "change driver behavior in a positive way to protect the lives of the children who ride a school bus to and from school every day."
Florida conducted the one-day, stop-arm violation count for the National School Bus Stop Arm Survey conducted by NASDPTS.
FSASC was initially formed in August to bring awareness to this alarming increase in motorists ignoring the law and illegally passing stopped school buses with their stop arms deployed. A release said the coalition is working around Florida to engage parents, educators, school administrators, law enforcement and transportation officials and will serve as a resource and rallying point for those who are concerned about this growing problem which puts children’s safety at risk.
"Whether it is ignorance of the law, distracted drivers or blatant disregard of children's safety – this increasing problem of stop arm violations should alarm all Floridians," said Katie Luebker, director of the Coalition. "We salute the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles and the Stop on Red, Kids Ahead campaign. Designed to increase understanding of motor vehicle laws as they apply to school buses, this initiative is a positive step toward bringing more awareness to a growing problem in our state."