Floridians always ring in a new year with a wealth of new laws to go into effect on January 1, and 2021 is no different. One piece of legislation should be of particular interest to parents who trust their school bus system to transport children to and from classes. According to ABC affiliate WTXL News Channel 27, officials are cracking down on motorists who choose to illegally pass a school bus that is stopped. The School Bus Safety Act increases the penalties for these offenders with a goal to discourage the types of misconduct that put children at risk of serious bus accidents. The fines double to $200 for drivers who pass a bus with red flashing lights and stop-arm extended; subsequent offenses within five years could lead to a driver’s license suspension.
Proponents of the law are hopeful that it will reduce Miami school bus accidents and keep children safe, but there are concerns that it does not go far enough. Plus, these incidents can be caused by many other careless acts. As a parent, the following information should be helpful.
Risks When Motorists Illegally Pass School Buses
Laws that prohibit unlawful passing of school buses exist for a reason, and safety is the primary driving factor. The rules require motorists approaching from any direction to stop for a school bus that has its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended. There are two key points that the laws are intended to address:
- Visibility: School buses are wide and high profile, making it difficult for drivers of other vehicles to see children exiting and entering.
- Vulnerability: Children are not as wise to the dangers they face around school buses. They may dart, run, or even fall when exiting, so motorists must take extra precautions.
Other Causes of School Bus Accidents
Though the law is promising in promoting safety, parents should be aware of many other factors that contribute to school bus accidents. The risks are present when the child enters the bus, is traveling on Miami roads with other traffic, and when stepping off the vehicle. Some common causes of school bus accidents during these stages include:
- Speeding, failure to yield, running red lights, and other traffic violations by motorists;
- Bus driver error or inexperience;
- Negligence by the bus company in hiring or training the operator;
- Inadequate monitoring of the bus embarkation area by the school;
- Malfunctioning equipment on the bus, such as the red flashing lights and stop-arm that alert other drivers to the vehicle stopping; and,
- Distracted driving by the bus operator or other motorists, including texting, talking on the phone, and other cell phone use.
Talk to a Miami Bus Accidents Lawyer About Your Options
Though your rights may seem clear after a school bus crash causes injuries to your child, there are many challenges involved with the legal process. For legal help with your claim, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA today to set up a consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.