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Survey: More than 10,000 Florida drivers pass school buses illegally daily

Florida lawmaker wants cameras placed outside buses
Posted: 6:25 AM, Apr 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-26 06:26:06-04
Survey: More than 10,000 Florida drivers pass school buses illegally daily

It’s a shocking statistic with possibly deadly consequences.

More than 10,000 drivers in Florida passed a school bus illegally in just one day, according to a survey by the Florida Department of Education.

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In Palm Beach County alone that number is 543. In Martin County, 115 drivers passed school buses illegally, and 171 in St. Lucie County.

“It’s a matter of time before someone gets hit by a car,” said Ronnie Basilico, who has been a school bus driver in Martin County for almost 20 years.

He’s seen many close calls over the years, including once when a student was getting off his bus.

“I grabbed his backpack as he was going out the door. Had I not grabbed his backpack, the car would have hit him,” Basilico said.

Across the state in Fort Myers, Sherry Stevens sits on the bench built in honor of her son Cameron.

“This bench was donated by some of our neighbors,” Stevens said, looking at the plaque with his name on it. “I talk to him all the time.”

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Cameron Mayhew was only 16 years old when he was hit and killed by a driver in June 2016. A day that will haunt Cameron’s dad forever.

“When the school bus passed, the arm went up and the stop sign came out,” Michael Mayhew said. “My son started walking across the road and that’s when it happened.”

Mayhew comes to his son’s memorial next to the bus stop four times a week.

"I just love him so much and I miss him,” Mayhew said.

Stevens remembers when she got the call that her son was in an accident.

“When I got to the bus stop, he was already in the ambulance,” Stevens said. “And I saw his shoes and backpack laying in the road.”

The straight-A student had a bright future that was taken from him in an instant.

“I’ll never see him graduate,” Mayhew said.

Cameron’s parents fought hard for lawmakers to pass new legislation, increasing penalties for drivers.

The driver who struck and killed Cameron was issued a $1,000 fine and his license was suspended for six months.

“He got a slap on the wrist,” Mayhew said.

The Cameron Mayhew Act increased penalties but his parents think much more needs to be done.

“We got the Cameron Mayhew Act to pass. It’s really hard to even say because it’s sounds so ridiculous, although I am grateful because I think it’s a start” Stevens said. “Instead of $1,000 fine, it’s a $1,500 fine. There's 120 hours community service to be done in a trauma center and a year loss of license.”

One big problem is catching drivers who pass school buses illegally.

"Unless a law enforcement officer is witnessing it while it’s happening, the law is unenforceable, we can’t enforce it,” said State Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Democrat from Boca Raton.

Slosberg is pushing for a law that would allow cameras on the outside of school buses. If the arm is up and a driver goes through, a ticket would automatically be sent.

“What it does is, we’re telling drivers we’re serious,” Slosberg said

Several school districts had already started pilot programs and bought a few cameras but had to take them down since it is not legal at this point.

Cameron’s parents want to make sure that legislators are listening.

“Something has to be done,” Mayhew said. “We’re losing our kids. A father shouldn’t have to bury their kid.”

Stevens has a hard time looking at pictures of Cameron.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” she said as she is looking at his yearbook.

Cameron would have graduated high school last year.

“It’s really sad that there are no new memories to make with him,” Stevens said.