UPDATE: Troopers Stop Motorists Illegally Passing School Buses

By: Shannon Houser
By: Shannon Houser

UPDATE: 5/5/2012 4:35 PM

This past week was the first West Virginia Bus Safety Campaign.

Troopers rode with children in school buses across the county stopping people who ignore the flashing red lights.

A total of 5 tickets were issued across the state this week.

In Wood County, a woman passed the bus on south side near the Walmart. It's a place where bus drivers say a ton of people illegally pass daily.

Police say it only takes a second for a child to get hit by a car, and people in the mountain state need to pay more attention to stopped school buses.

Statistics show 600 people across the state illegally pass buses.

More and more people illegally pass school buses in West Virginia daily, and the Bus Safety Campaign is aimed to stop this growing problem that's putting our kids in harms way.

"Sometimes I'll even wave my hand out the window to get their attention. I'll honk the horn a lot of time trying to get their attention, because even if they don't stop then, hopefully they'll notice what they're doing and stop the next time," says Wood County Schools Bus Driver, David Carpenter.

In West Virginia, data shows that cars illegally pass school buses 600 times every school day. The solution....troopers riding along on those buses for a week long Bus Safety Campaign. WTAP took a ride, too on Tuesday to learn about the program first hand.

Corporal Mark Mayhugh with the West Virginia State Police explains how it's done. "We have a trooper on the school bus and another trooper nearby in the patrol vehicle and as violators were spotted running the lights of the school bus, the patrol vehicle was notified and the vehicle was stopped and cited."

The problem has gotten so bad that bus drivers say even kids on their buses are recognizing when cars illegally pass them.

"The children, they notice, cuz I usually point it out to them that way, to get them to stop before they cross the road," Carpenter says.

A popular excuse for passing a school bus is that people just don't understand the laws.

"Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. We're talking the lives of our children here and that's the priority. If you come up on a school bus and lights are flashing and you don't know whether to stop or not, the best thing to do is stop," Mayhugh says.

But even if you don't understand the law, don't expect to get out of a ticket. Passing a school bus in West Virginia will get you that, plus a 30 day license suspension.

One person was caught passing a school bus on the route WTAP traveled on Tuesday . "I advised her the reason for the stop and she sat there and she thought for a second and she said, you're right, I failed to stop," Corporal Jennifer Price says.

It's all in an effort to keep our children safe. An effort that WV State Police hopes will continue even after they step off the bus.

Corporal Price explains, "to hopefully remind people to use more caution, pay more attention. It just takes a few seconds for a child to step out in front of a vehicle."

If you pass a school bus with it's stop sign displayed, you can face a 150 dollar fine. If anyone is injured while you pass the bus, you can also get charged with a felony.

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