BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Safety in school zones: Boynton Beach police have made it a major priority to stop drivers from speeding, checking their phones and zooming past school buses.
Now that a new school year is off and running, officers are patrolling schools zones almost every day. This year, hundreds of tickets have been written to drivers in school zones, according to police.
Palm Beach County had 179 school bus crashes reported in 2018, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Boynton Beach police hope their education efforts can reduce that number.
Use the map below to see school bus crash statistics for your county:
Officers Lawrence Rini and Vincent Mastro set out before sunrise to catch dangerous drivers.
On a recent October morning, the two were focused on Seacrest Boulevard were several school buses were picking up students.
It didn't take long before a driver went past a bus that was stopped with its red lights flashing and stop sign activated.
Mastro pulled the driver over and learned he was was driving with a suspended license. The driver also told officers he didn’t see the school bus.
"Either they are not paying attention or sometimes they are running late," said Mastro.
Throughout the morning, almost a dozen more school buses stopped in the area. Rini and Mastro kept their eyes peeled for drivers speeding and passing buses that had their lights on and stop signs out. Thankfully, the officers found that drivers were obeying the rules.
Mastro feels the presence of police is making a big difference.
"We are out there every day. It has made everyone more aware," said Mastro.
The officer added that drivers don’t realize the impact one mistake can make.
"It just takes one child to be late for school and run across the street without looking, and that would be catastrophic for that family," said Mastro.
The officers said they are not out to write expensive tickets, but passing a school bus can cost up to $265. Instead, their mission is a priceless one.
As a reminder, drivers must stop for a school bus when their lights are flashing and the stop sign is out. The only time you don’t have to stop is when you are on the opposite side of the road and have a raised median in between you and the bus.
Boynton Beach police are asking people to report drivers who they think are speeding or driving past school buses illegally.