(WSVN) - Last year, 7News showed how some parents found a very dangerous and illegal way to save time when dropping their kids off at school. Despite warnings from law enforcement, it’s happening again. Investigative reporter Brian Entin has more in this special assignment report: Dangerous Drop-off.
The illegal drop-offs start around 7 in the morning on this busy 103rd Street exit ramp off the Palmetto.
Kids climb out of cars in Hialeah Gardens. Some crossing three and four lanes of traffic to walk to Mater Academy Charter School just blocks away.
Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Yosvany Segui: “Hey, get back in your car! Get back in the car! You’re walking into traffic!”
7Investigates first alerted Florida Highway Patrol to this dangerous problem last year. Officers pulled offenders over and gave out tickets and warnings.
Parent: “I know it’s not safe.”
Trooper: “So you know it’s not safe, and you think it’s worth it?”
But now, some parents are ignoring the law again.
Sgt. Yosvany Segui: “Go back to your car.”
With troopers in plain sight, drivers continued letting kids out in the middle of the busy exit ramp.
Sgt. Yosvany Segui: “Why would you drop her off in the middle of a highway?”
Parent: “That’s where we’ve always dropped off.”
Sgt. Yosvany Segui: “It’s a highway. You know you’re not allowed to do that?”
When this driver saw our camera, he rolled the window up while the officer was talking to him.
Sgt. Yosvany Segui: “*knocks on window* No, you’re going to pull over now. This is a traffic stop. That’s not how it works.”
FHP says if this continues, it’s only a matter of time before a student is hurt or killed.
FHP Lt. Alex Camacho: “We’re concerned because we know that at any moment, one of these kids could get struck by a car.”
Since it’s all about saving time, we wanted to see how long it would take to get to Mater Academy the legal way, so we started our timer.
We drove from the exit ramp through bumper-to-bumper traffic, several stoplights and lots of congestion. Making it to Mater Academy and then finally back to the 826. The roundtrip of less than a mile took us 26 and a half minutes, but when it comes to your child’s safety, officers say it’s worth taking the time to do it right.
Lt. Alex Camacho: “Dropping your children off there — it’s a terrible idea. It’s just not worth saving those 15-20-25 minutes, whatever it might be.”
The school recently built this footbridge hoping parents would drop off kids there, but the convenience of the exit ramp is too much for some to ignore.
Sgt. Segui: “I sometimes think that they don’t fathom what the consequences are when people are coming over the hill at 60-70 mph.”
Mater Academy refused to comment on camera but told us in a statement that the school, “…fully supports local law enforcement’s efforts to enforce all applicable traffic laws…” and said they sent a reminder out to parents asking them “…to discontinue the unsafe practice of allowing your children to get off on the Palmetto Expressway ramp.”
Sgt. Segui: “I’m going to give you a warning but don’t do this again, please.
The hope is that parents will listen and learn before their dangerous drop-offs turn into tragedy.
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