School board hears of ‘crazy truck drivers’ on Berman Road

During the public comment section of the Okeechobee County School Board’s monthly meeting on April 9, the board heard from Ashley Tripp, a concerned parent worried about kids getting off buses on Berman Road.

Mrs. Tripp spoke to the board to bring attention to the increased truck traffic on Berman Road and the potential for traffic accidents.

“I spoke to the board last year about the increased truck traffic, and from my experience this year it has exponentially increased,” said Mrs. Tripp. “I implore this board to bring this attention to our law enforcement. All of our roads have traffic, but we have 80,000-pound trucks on our road. I’ve heard that we have had 600 to 1,000 a day. We’ve been graced by God that there hasn’t been an incident yet.”

Mrs. Tripp has a senior attending Okeechobee High School and says she also reported coming across what she described as “crazy” truck drivers.

“Last week there was an encounter at the bus stop in front of our home,” Mrs. Tripp continued. “A bus stopped to let a young boy get on and his parents were in the driveway watching. As the boy goes to get on, a semi goes by. It never, ever stopped. My adult son happened to be out by the road at the same time and his hat flew off as the truck went by. They’re not going 50 miles per hour; we have other indicators out there that often catch them at 75.”

Mrs. Tripp also said the highest volume of trucks appears to be in the morning and afternoon, which lines up directly with the bus schedule.

In March 2018 the Okeechobee County Sheriffs Office conducted ‘Operation Truck Stop’ after receiving complaints about school buses being passed when stopped to pick up or drop off students and about reported speeders. Special to the Okeechobee News.

Okeechobee Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy reported he had reached out to Jeff Sabin at Waste Management and that Sabin confirmed that the volume of trucks had increased because of the cleaning of canals down near Miami. Mr. Sabin agreed to let the school district hand out maps to truck drivers that display the bus stops along Berman road.

“It’s also not just truck drivers, it’s all drivers,” said Mr. Kenworthy. “There’s a massive epidemic statewide of people not stopping for buses.”

Mr. Kenworthy added that Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel E. Stephen has also expressed interest in having deputies ride along with the buses.
“We need a statement that our county isn’t going to tolerate that kind of driving,” said Mrs. Tripp. “I don’t want to see a tragedy happen.”

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