TAMPA, Fla. — It’s a daily frustration for Maria Castillo when she walks her kids to MacFarlane Park Elementary School.
“I will literally honk my horn every single day to call the attention to the person that is either texting or about to speed again through that same crosswalk," said Castillo, who's the President of the MacFarlane Park Neighborhood Association.
A 67-year-old pedestrian was hit and killed in the area in 2019, and since then, the neighborhood has helped shepherd several safety improvements.
Just a few weeks ago, the City of Tampa helped unveil the latest improvement: a mural-style crosswalk that's designed with the intention of slowing drivers.
However, Castillo says speeding continues, which is why she's watching a pair of bills in Tallahassee that were recently filed by a bipartisan pair of lawmakers from Miami-Dade County.
“Personally, I think anything that would deter the speeding is something that should be considered and looked at," said Castillo.
House Bill 189 and its companion, Senate Bill 140, would allow Florida cities and counties to install speed detection camera systems in school zones.
According to the legislation, if a driver goes ten miles per hour or more over the speed limit within an hour before school, while school’s in session, or within the after a school dismisses, the camera would record video or photo proof of the violation and capture the driver’s plate number.
The driver would be mailed a ticket that he or she can pay or challenge in a hearing.
It’s a similar concept to the red light cameras that have caused years of debate in Florida.
However, Rep. Nick Duran (D-Miami) says his bill to bring cameras to school zones shouldn’t be as controversial because of who it’s designed to protect.
“We’re talking about our children and children in the community, and I think we are zeroed on the idea of ensuring that when you are walking your children to school — and there’s a lot of families who do this around our state every day — that we’re ensuring their safety," said Duran.
He points out that the bill stipulates a long process of educating and warning drivers about the new cameras before any are installed, so no one’s caught off guard.
“If they really want to put this into play, then they’re going to have to go through ensuring folks know that this is now the case and this is a law," said Duran.
The bill was introduced in the previous session but Duran says lawmakers ran out of time to pass it. He’s hoping for better results, though, in the 2022 session.
He says a similar law already exists in other states like Georgia.