As the first week of the new school year ends, police agencies around Palm Beach County said Friday that they are concentrating their educational and enforcement efforts on catching and educating motorists who illegally sped past stopped school buses.
“This is an issue that has historically received very little attention,” said Col. Jim Stormes of the county Sheriff’s Office.
Over the summer, the sheriff’s office created a countywide school bus safety program with district police and several municipal police departments to target motorists illegally passing buses.
The program is set to run throughout this school year, and several deputies have already been patrolling specific school bus stops all week to give motorists warnings when they illegally pass stopped buses.
At a news conference Friday morning at the school’s district’s Safe Schools Institute in Boca Raton, the law-enforcement partnership unveiled a new educational video created by Officer Frank Fanelli of the school district police.
The video, titled “Stop on Red, Kids Ahead,” has Fanelli’s son, James, narrating and explaining the rules of when motorists are required to stop for schools buses that are picking up or dropping off children.
“The main thing is to educate the public,” said district Police Chief Lawrence Leon, who said the video can soon be downloaded from the school district’s website, as well as being distributed by the sheriff’s office and other local police departments.
Deputy Ryan Mugridge, whose idea was the bus safety program, said he has also created educational fliers on bus safety laws and the $271 fine violators can get for illegally passing a bus. Those fliers are being given out with warnings for the first few weeks of school, when motorists are caught passing stopped buses.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, the Ocean Ridge Police Department and community groups also gave out another 2,000 of those fliers to parents at back-to- school events over the summer.