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No excuses around schools, buses, kids, deputies say

This is National School Bus Safety Week and drivers need to beware: The Sheriff's Office is taking it seriously.

By TAMARA LUSH

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


HUDSON -- As Mark Hall drove his Dodge Omni down U.S. 19 Wednesday morning on his way to see his probation officer, he apparently didn't notice the yellow school bus come to a stop.

Hall, 40, also said he didn't see the bus' wooden arm with a stop sign extended, and sped past the vehicle in the left lane.

Unfortunately for Hall, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office is marking National School Bus Safety Week. Deputy Jerry Palladino was following the school bus on U.S. 19 on Wednesday when he noticed that Hall didn't stop.

Palladino pulled Hall over, and the two came to a stop in the parking lot of a convenience store. Wearing a brown leather belt that said "Porsche," Hall took responsibility for driving past the bus and breaking the law.

"I kind of ran it," Hall said. "I didn't see the flaps open on the bus."

All this week, the Sheriff's Office is cracking down on motorists who speed near schools, kids and buses.

Hall was the only driver on Wednesday who received a ticket for passing a stopped school bus, said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.

But deputies are also looking for non-school related daytime traffic violators. On Wednesday, deputies wrote 79 citations and handed out 16 warnings.

Hall also was charged with driving without a valid driver's license -- the last time he had a license was in Michigan, in 1981. The license plate on Hall's Dodge Omni was also registered to another car, so he was ticketed for that offense, as well.

Hall, who is on probation for failing to register as a sex offender, received a $118 ticket for not stopping for the school bus.

Probation officials said they will review Hall's case to determine whether his probation will be revoked.

Hall, who lives at 10625 Lot 8, Houston Ave. in Hudson, promised that he is going to get a license and pay his tickets before he gets behind the wheel again.

"I'm all done driving until I can get everything taken care of," he said.

- Tamara Lush is the police reporter in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6245. Her e-mail address is lush@sptimes.com.

Rules for school buses

On any two-way street or highway, all vehicles must stop for a legally stopped school bus displaying red loading lights and a stop signal arm.

All vehicles that are required to stop must remain stopped until the school bus' red lights are turned off and the stop arm is retracted.

When vehicles are traveling in the same direction as a school bus displaying red loading lights and an extended stop arm, they must stop if the street or highway is a four-lane that is divided by a raised median.

Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction as the school bus displaying red loading lights and an extended stop arm do not have to stop if the street or highway is divided by a 5-foot-wide unpaved median or physical barrier.

When vehicles are traveling in either direction near a school bus displaying flashing yellow warning lights that has not yet come to a complete stop, they do not have to stop.

- Source: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

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