FL school district issues cell phone ban in bid to prevent accidents

In a bid to prevent dangerous driving and potential accidents, the Broward, FL, school district is looking to put the brakes on parents' dangerous driving by banning cell phone use in the school grounds.

A policy that would ban drivers on school grounds from using their cell phones and all other electronic devices, even if they are using headsets or Bluetooth, is being seriously considered by the School Board.

"I want their full attention if they're on our school site," said Jerry Graziose, director of safety for the district, who drafted the proposal. "We've had parents actually hit their kids in the school driveways."

Phone users slowing down pickup lines have been complained about by principals and parents alike. In fact, it is not unusual to see people speed off while their children's clothing or backpack dangles in the door, according to supporters of the ban.

"Once I saw a woman so preoccupied on her phone at Somerset Academy that she did not even notice that her poodle had jumped from the passenger side window and was hanging from its leash like a hang man's noose," said parent Michael Aceti, who works in Sunrise.

However, some parents, citing Palm Beach County schools not having such a policy, want to keep it that way.

"Have you ever tried to find your child in the cluster bomb of a release from school?" asked Jason Serrano, of Boca Raton. "It's easier when you can call them and then you coordinate where you are and where they are."

The district has no plans to add any restrictions, according to Owen Torres, a spokesman for Palm Beach County schools. However, during drop-off and pickup, it does encourage parents to put down their phones.

"We want to make sure everyone is on proper alert," he said.

Signs prohibiting cell phone use in drop-off and pickup areas are already posted around campuses in Broward. However, school officials have had a hard time enforcing it without an official rule. Texting while driving is prohibited by state law, but the law only considers it a secondary offense, so a driver has to break another rule to receive a fine.

As Karen Yi of the The Sun Sentinel reports, the proposed policy would allow those waiting in pickup lines to use their phones until the car starts moving. However, there's not much anyone can do if a parent refuses to put down the cell phone.

Because of that, the policy is "irrelevant," said Davie parent Jennifer Ghetti. "Reality is, how many parents will actually abide by that?"

Driving incidents so far have been minor and mostly at the elementary schools, according to Graziose. However, preventing more serious injuries is what he wants.

"When [people] are using their hands-free device, they're concentrating on their phone, not paying attention to the children," he said.

Nonetheless, the policy still needs school board approval. Next month is the scheduled time for a public hearing on the policy.

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