Dangerous Drop Off

(WSVN) - We all have tricks to get through South Florida traffic, but some parents are causing major concerns when they drop off their kids for school. 7’s Brian Entin has more in our special report called Dangerous Drop Off.

The morning commute in South Florida can be very stressful. And for parents, the day starts with dropping the kids off at school. And that can be a slow process.

Trooper Joe Sanchez, Florida Highway Patrol: “We live in a rat race world and people have to get to work.”

Florida Trooper Joe Sanchez has seen a lot on Florida highways, but he was shocked when we showed him what some drivers are doing around Mater Academy in Hialeah.

Trooper Joe Sanchez: “Look at this! This kid almost got hit by a car.”

One parent alerted 7News to the problem in February.

He didn’t want his face shown to protect his kids.

Mike, concerned parent: “There’s always one kid getting out of a car on the ramp.”

You see students weaving through traffic after getting out of the car on the off ramp of the Palmetto just east of the school. A place where most drivers won’t be looking for someone walking.

Mike: “That’s the scary part. They can actually hit a kid.”

Trooper Joe Sanchez: “You’re putting your children in harm’s way.”

For weeks 7News cameras caught kids walking down the ramp … and even running across several lanes of traffic.

Trooper Joe Sanchez: “We’ve been very lucky where no one has been struck by a vehicle. I wouldn’t do it. I know better. This is crazy.”

Trooper Sanchez says this behavior is not only illegal — it can be deadly.

Trooper Joe Sanchez: “Florida statute clearly states that there should be no pedestrians on the roadway and highways including ramps.”

We rode with troopers in the area.

Even with a marked patrol car on the ramp, students were still dropped off in traffic.

Parent: “I know it’s not safe.”

Lt. Alex Camacho, Florida Highway Patrol: “So, if you know it’s not safe and you know you’re possibly putting your daughter’s life in danger, you think it’s worth it?”

It didn’t stop there. Parents continued dropping their kids off on the ramp while troopers had other cars pulled over.

Lt. Alex Camacho: “Pull over on the shoulder.”

When asked why they drop their children off on the ramp, drivers told troopers they do it to save time. Troopers say that is the wrong answer.

Lt. Alex Camacho: “You think it’s worth saving a couple of minutes and putting your brother’s life in danger?”

Lt. Alex Camacho: “Why would you drop off your son here on a highway ramp?”

Parent: “We always do, so I don’t know.”

Lt. Alex Camacho: “You always do, but do you know that’s illegal?”

School officials at Mater Academy say they’re aware of the problem.

Beatriz Morris, Mater Academy Assistant Principal: “I believe traffic is a little hectic at all schools, and 103rd Street is a little hectic in itself.”

But they say parents need to be more responsible.

Beatriz Morris: “It’s the safety of their children. That’s not correct at all.”

Troopers say from now on, they plan to have extra patrols in the area and will be ticketing drivers making the dangerous drop offs.

Drivers dropping children off on the ramp can be ticketed $179.

A pedestrian bridge is being built behind Mater Academy. School officials hope it will be complete by next school year and will help with the traffic issues.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Florida Highway Patrol
https://www.flhsmv.gov/florida-highway-patrol/about-fhp/

Mater Academy
http://www.matermiddlehigh.org/

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