If you drive in school zones or behind school buses in Palm Beach County, school officials want to put the brakes on some of your dangerous behavior.
School officials want the state to allow them to install cameras on school buses to catch cars speeding past stopped buses. They also want legislators to ban texting and non-hands-free calls in school zones.
Vernon Pickup-Crawford, the district's lobbyist, said incidents of distracted drivers putting children's safety at risk are steadily on the rise.
"We're seeing it more and more, whether it's somebody doing a business call or talking to family," he said. "Especially as buses are coming and going, as kids are walking along sidewalks, here comes a driver who is busy doing a text message and not paying attention."
Still, he said, this year's lobbying priorities will be on increasing local flexibility on issues such as merit pay, charter schools and control over funding. The district, however, will support any measure that boosts safety, Pickup-Crawford said.
He said while state laws don't prohibit mounting cameras on buses, the district needs authorization from the state to use the video to issue tickets.
Joseph Sanches, chief of support operations, said if the state approved, the district would consider contracting a private company to install the cameras, monitor the footage and notify the appropriate agency to issue tickets.
He said the fines would offset costs and be split between the private contractor and the school.
"Safety is our number one concern, and if there's a way to generate some revenue from it, hopefully it'll be enough of a deterrent to see the numbers drop down," he said.
Though Florida has not implemented a statewide ban of texting while driving, Sanches said he hopes tailoring the ban specifically to school zones will garner more legislative support.
Last session, state Rep. Eduardo Gonzalez, R- Hialeah Gardens , co-sponsored a Uniform Traffic Control bill that would allow school districts to install school bus traffic infraction detectors and penalize violators. But the bill died in subcommittee.
A similar bill filed in the Florida Senate did not get through the budget committee, according to Pickup-Crawford.
He said the district would wait until after the election to reach out to local officials and begin lobbying for the bill once again.
Board member Chuck Shaw said the traffic issues were worth looking at as a way to raise awareness.
"People are supposed to stop while buses are stopped on the street," he said. "We transport a lot of kids and we need to keep them safe."
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