Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies are taking to the roads this week to keep students safe as they head back to school.
The first week back people are rushed and anxious, Deputy Jessica Giolotte said.
“And when people are anxious they do strange things.”
Deputies are on the lookout for speeders, people passing buses illegally and problems at bus stops, she said.
“We just want to be really visible,” Giolotte said. “We just try to drive around and be there.”
Often that visibility is enough to make people slow down and pay attention to their surroundings.
But not always.
As she sat clocking motorist speed at the intersection of Shining Star and Parkway Boulevard, near Pine View Elementary and Middle schools, a car rolled through a stop sign, just moments after two children crossed the street in front of oncoming traffic.
It’s a dangerous intersection, one the sheriff’s office gets a lot of complaints about, she said.
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And that move proved costly for a father rushing to get his kids to school. As Giolotte pulled the vehicle over, three young boys got out of the car and started walking toward the school.
The driver told Giolotte the kids had missed the bus, so he jumped in the car to get them there—leaving his wallet and driver’s license at home. He admitted to running the stop sign because he wasn’t paying attention, Giolotte said. “That’s where the dangerous part comes in.”
The moving violation will cost the driver $262 in fines. On the positive side, he may have had a positive impact on other drivers in the area.
In that 15 minutes it took to process the stop, every car that passed slowed to look. Now, they’re slowing down and paying attention, because “they know we’re not playing around,” Giolotte said. “We’re keeping kids safe.”
Another move that will guarantee you a ticket from Giolotte: passing a school bus while its stop sign is out.
“People think if there’s a lane between them, it’s OK,” she said.
The only time it’s OK to pass a stopped bus is if there’s a median between you.
“If there’s no median, you stop,” she said. “I will write a ticket for that every time.”
But the heightened patrols aren’t meant to generate citations. “We don’t want to hit people with a bunch of tickets. We just want people to be careful,” Giolotte said.
How was traffic when you were out this morning? Were people behaving on the roads as the kids headed back to class? Let us know what you saw in the comments section.