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Pass Stopped School Bus? Bill Ups Penalty

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Don Mair holds up a photo of his daughter Gabby Mair in a YouTube video.

It’s a familiar sight for many commuters: a yellow school bus slows to a stop, a red stop sign swings out, and children get on or off the bus.

Passing a school bus that’s stopped could soon get you a reckless driving charge in Florida, according to a new bill proposed this week.

The new bill is called Gabby’s Law for School Bus Stop Safety. It’s named after 12-year-old Gabby Mair, who was hit by a car after getting off the school bus in DeBary in 2010. The next day, she was pronounced brain dead. 

“She wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the last,” said her father, Don Mair. “Another 27 kids died the same exact way as Gab, and nothing has been done until now.”

The bill was filed by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. It would expand fines and penalties for passing a stopped school bus.

Simmons said the whole concept of children getting on and off school buses on busy highways will have to be addressed.

“As we get more and more information with respect to the number of injuries and deaths, which are significant and certainly very, very sad, we’ll continue with the progress of the bill,” Simmons said.

Expanded fines would help fund hospital trauma programs. Mair wants to see the bill expanded to include video cameras on school buses and automatic ticketing.

Check here to read Gabby’s Bill.

Abe Aboraya is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. WMFE  is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.