Transportation bill inches forward in Florida Congress

It was just another school day for 12-year-old middle school student and DeBary native Gabrielle Mair, who was getting off the bus and suddenly struck by a car and killed June 2010. Mair died June 2, one day after the fatal incident. Senate Bill 1570, also known as “Gabby’s Law for school bus stop safety,” was filed in her honor.

The transportation committee met Wednesday in a Senate meeting to discuss SB 1570. This bill revises the penalties and violations for a driver's failure to stop at school bus stops.

Chairman of the transportation committee Sen. Jeff Brandes said that one of the offenses would be a reckless driving charge and he believes this is what needs to be done.

“The reckless driving charge comes with a mandatory court appearance and you can go to jail for up to 90 days, so it’s a very serious offense and it is was we need in Florida,” Brandes said.

SB 1570 originally authorized Florida school districts to use cameras and video recording devices under certain circumstances, but that language was later deleted from the bill.

Gabby’s father, Donald Mair, represented her at the meeting and he believes the cameras are extremely necessary in the state of Florida.

“Our law requires a law enforcement officer to witness the infraction,” Mair said. “A law enforcement officer cannot follow around each bus and protect our children. That is why kids in our state are constantly being run over.”

Although it will be a reckless driving charge Mair is concerned about how it will be enforced.

Volusia county Sen. David Simmons explained the controversy over having cameras installed on buses.

“There is a big dispute among citizens as well as legislatures as to whether or not the cameras are an appropriate mean of enforcing laws,” Simmons said.

The transportation committee ended the meeting with this bill being reported favorably. The House met to discuss HB 487 Thursday and voted in favor of the bill.