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Busted at the bus stop again: know when to stop for kids

Matt Grant

Busted at the bus stop again: know when to stop for kids

CREATED Feb. 7, 2012

NORTH FORT MYERS - Busted at the bus stop - again.

Two months after we caught drivers breaking the law by illegally going around stopped school buses we've discovered it's still happening.

"Do you know it's illegal to go around stopped school buses?," Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant asked Cape Coral motorist Jeffrey Fastov, who was pulled over for doing just that.

"Now I do," said Fastov.

Fox 4 is heading back to Pondella Road in North Fort Myers for the second time after our cameras captured dangerous drivers breaking the law back in November.

"Honking does nothing," a school bus driver told us at the time. "We usually get the Italian salute."

We met Brandon McHenry and his 11-year-old daughter Briyaunna. Both wanted to see a stepped-up law enforcement presence.

"It's not rocket science," said McHenry. "It's just the safety of our kids."

A safety concern the sheriff's office promised to address with added patrols.

"Is this something you're committed to doing now?," asked Grant.

"Oh absolutely," said Larry King with the sheriff's office.

But two months later little has changed.

McHenry is still shooting video with his cell phone camera. He recently captured a bus driver honking as a car drove past in the opposite lane. Another pickup stopped only after being honked at twice.

"Are you afraid someone's going to get killed?," asked Grant.

"I think unfortunately Matt that's what it's going to take," said McHenry.

The bus stop, on Monica Lane and Pondella, is right across from the sheriff's sub station. On Tuesday, we spotted several patrol cars on the lookout - something McHenry says has been missing since our last story.

"Is it a PR move?," asked McHenry, who thinks deputies were on the lookout for stop sign law breakers Tuesday only because Fox 4 was there. "Or do they have legitimate concern for the children of Lee County?"

We met Larry King by the Pondella bus stop. He says deputies have been out "periodically" since our last story.

"It just takes time," said King. "We can only do this periodically. We can't be here every day."

So how do you know when to stop? If you're behind the bus you have to stop no matter what. If you're going the opposite way you can keep going only if there's a 5-foot median. Without a median everyone has to stop.

And that's what happened at Briyaunna's bus stop Tuesday. While some drivers are aware of the law others aren't.

Just up the road, at Pondella Circle and Pondella Road, we watched as two cars blew past a stopped bus in the opposite lane of traffic. 

Pondella doesn't have a median, making it against the law.

But we weren't the only ones watching. King, sitting in his patrol car, was also keeping an eye on the stop and quickly gave chase.

"Do you worry that you're putting kids lives at risk?," Grant asked the driver.

"Hey, I told you I did not know that you could not do that," said Jeffrey Fastov. "I was educated today but that other guy should have been educated too."

"So because one person did it," said Grant.

"Well listen," said Fastov. "I did not know. I've been driving almost 40 years." 

Fastov got off with a warning because he was unaware of the law. If he was given a ticket it would have cost $264 and four points on his license.

"I don't know how they could not be aware that you have to stop for a school bus," said Lee County School Board Chair Mary Fischer.

Fischer isn't happy with what we found. She promised to bring this up at the next board meeting saying the district needs to do a better job of educating the public.

She also said she will ask law enforcement to step up patrols around bus stops.

"It was very eye opening," said Fischer. "Thank you for doing that. We really need to see that."

As for Briyaunna, she just hopes drivers get the message.

"Stop," she said. "Don't you see me getting on the bus here? Do you want to hit a little girl?"

A bill is working its way through the Florida Senate that would allow cameras to be installed on buses to capture the license plates of cars that illegally go around the stop arm.

The bus driver's union, and Fischer, both say they like the concept but question how the cameras will know who was driving and how it will be funded.

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com

 

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