MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department wrote 33 citations during the first five days of public school as part of an effort to make drivers more aware around school buses.
“Surprisingly, none of them were for passing a school bus,” Sheriff Perry Palmer said. “That’s a good thing.”
The department assigned extra deputies to work during school bus hours — 7-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. Palmer also said deputies who weren’t actively responding to calls were asked to monitor motorists driving around school buses.
Palmer said every year the department gets complaints about motorists driving unsafely around school buses and by starting patrols on the first day of school, he hoped to get safety into the public’s minds early.
Deputies handed out 12 citations for using a cell phone while driving and 11 for speeding. Other violations included expired registrations, not wearing a seatbelt and illegal passing.
The department was enforcing a zero tolerance policy during the enforcement operation.
“It’s working well so far,” Jeff Meadows, assistant to the superintendent in charge of transportation, said.
Meadows previously told The Dominion Post this year more than 9,000 students ride over 100 buses to get to and from school.
Palmer said his deputies did an exceptional job and he appreciates their diligence. He said the department will continue to focus on problem areas, identified in cooperation with Meadows, throughout the school year.
Depending on what areas get complaints, deputies will also switch locations to make their presence more broadly felt throughout the county. Palmer said he believes having a visible presence helps.
People should plan to encounter school buses and schedule extra commuting time if needed, something Palmer said he has to do when he goes to work.
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