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Florida bill would require cameras on school bus stop signs

Lawmakers calling for changes following Fort Pierce hit-and-run crash that killed child
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Posted at 11:41 AM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 18:42:52-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A pair of Florida lawmakers are calling for changes in the wake of a deadly hit-and-run crash in Fort Pierce that claimed the life of a 10-year-old girl.

Yaceny Berenice Rodriguez-Gonzalez was struck and killed on Sept. 23 at Skylark Drive and Oleander Avenue while crossing the street to get to her school bus.

According to investigators, a white sedan went around a parked school bus -- which was stopped with its red lights flashing and stop sign extended -- hit the girl, then took off.

The vehicle was found later in the day. Police identified a person of interest in the case but have not made any arrests.

Yaceny Berenice Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 10, and car involved in deadly Fort Pierce hit-and-run crash on Sept. 23, 2021.jpg
Yaceny Berenice Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 10, and car involved in deadly Fort Pierce hit-and-run crash on Sept. 23, 2021.

RELATED: Police locate car, person of interest in Fort Pierce hit-and-run crash that killed child

In the wake of Rodriguez-Gonzalez's tragic death, Florida Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, and Florida Rep. Thad Altman, R-Indian Harbour Beach, have filed a bill that would require Florida school districts to install cameras on the stop signs of school buses.

The Photographic Enforcement of School Bus Safety bill would allow the cameras -- also known as a "side stop signal arm enforcement system" -- to capture whether cars stop when approaching school buses, which is required under state law.

Law enforcement agencies would be able to use the footage as evidence against offending drivers.

"It is disgusting and it’s dangerous," Slosberg said. "And as we see with what just happened recently, a young girl, Yaceny, was killed when a driver did just that."

Slosberg just filed a bill that would allow school districts to put cameras on the long arms outside the bus, aimed at license plates to catch cars trying to get around the bus illegally.

"It would have been able to identify the car that hit Yaceny quicker. It’s a tool for law enforcement," Slosberg said.

Not only to identify the cars, but also serve as a deterrent.

"It will give drivers notice that you’re going to be recorded and not to overtake the school bus," Slosberg said.

Slosberg said 23 other states allow school districts to put these kinds of cameras on the outside of their buses. Slosberg also cited a recent study by the Department of Education that showed on any given day, more than 10,000 bus drivers reported being over taken by drivers.

"I filed this bill the last three years," Slosberg said. "I think this bill has the potential to save lives, and save the lives of our school children."

The bill will be up for review during Florida's next Legislative Session, which is scheduled to run from Jan. 11 to March 11 of next year.

If passed, the law would go into effect on July 1, 2022.