On October 1, 2013, Florida’s texting ban for all drivers went into effect. However, days before this new law was implemented, students reported that a school bus driver was using her cellphone when a crash occurred.

This Sarasota school bus accident happened around 3:40 p.m. on Friday, September 20, 2013. According to the Sarasota Police Department, the crash took place at Ringling Boulevard and Tuttle Avenue and involved a Sarasota County school bus and a Waste Management garbage truck.

Audrey Howe, the 58-year-old school bus driver, rear-ended a garbage truck that was stopped in traffic at a green light. According to the children on the bus from Gulf Gate Elementary School, the bus driver was using her cell phone. However, the driver refutes these allegations and stated she had looked into the rear-view mirror at misbehaving children when the collision occurred. Interestingly, she acknowledged that she did look at her cell phone prior to the crash to check the time.

Larry D. Saffold, the 57-year-old garbage truck driver, was seriously injured and transported to an area hospital for medical care. Michael T. Curry, 42, his passenger, also suffered injuries and was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital with back pain. Additionally, nine of the 25 children on board the bus reported minor injuries and were assessed by the Sarasota County Fire Department, but none of them were taken to the hospital.

Two children on the bus told police that they believe she was possibly texting at the time of the crash. The Sarasota Police Department is currently investigating these allegations. In the meantime, Howe has been charged with careless driving.

It is of great concern that school bus drivers would be texting or using their phones at all while they are transporting innocent children. If your child has been injured in a Sarasota school bus accident, you may have rights to a financial recovery. Contact Mallard Perez at 888-409-3805 to speak with an experienced Sarasota accident attorney for help and a free consultation.

Damian Mallard, Esq.
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