Sharon Marel-Lawrence wants drivers to pay more attention when they drive near a bus transporting children to school in Collier County.
“People just need to just slow down,” Marel-Lawrence said, clearly frustrated. “You never know what kids are going to do.”
That is a message Marel-Lawrence said every driver needs to hear. Marel-Lawrence has kids in elementary school. She is livid with people ignoring the flashing red lights on the school bus.
”If you think they’re going to walk in front of your car, then they’re going to walk in front of your car,” Marel-Lawrence said. “I tell my kids that all the time. Always think the worst because it’s going to happen.”
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Nearly 40 children have died from vehicles crashing into school buses from 2006 to 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. These incidents commonly occur between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Deputies said if a person is caught passing a school bus with the stop sign out, he or she can expect a fine up to $268. The driver will also have to pass a driving improvement class.
To prevent the “worst from happening,” Collier County Sheriff’s Office has deputies patrolling bus stops all month long. They are on the lookout for distracted and impatient drivers.
”This morning on the Golden Gate Parkway route we stopped nine violators on maybe two major stops right there on Livingston Road and nine again received citations,” SGT. Terry Smith of the CCSO Safety Traffic Enforcement.
And they are not the only ones. State traffic officials said drivers fly by buses nearly two million times every school year.
“We even got people that passed on the right, where the kids get on,” Smith said. “It’s an issue and we randomly do this and we will continue to do this with the Sheriffs department.”