BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. — Be aware, be alert and be safe.
That’s the message local law enforcement officials are urging motorists to keep in mind now that school is back in session and little ones are riding buses.
When school starts back next week on Thursday, August 20, 2015 the Boone County Sheriff’s Office will be teaming up with the West Virginia State Police to have an increased presence throughout the county, according to Boone County Chief Deputy Chad Barker.
“The presence will be focusing on school speed zones as well as drivers running school bus stop signs,” Barker said. “Of course we will be in and around school zones, but we will also focus on bus routes in the rural areas of the county.”
Both agencies will have officers working altered schedules to ensure a safe start to school, Boone County Sheriff Randall White added.
“I feel working with the State Police to combine our efforts is a benefit to the children in our County,” Sheriff White said. “We would ask that motorists be a little extra cautious beginning Thursday morning and be on the lookout for kids loading and unloading school buses.”
Motorists in all lanes of traffic — even on four- and five-lane roads — must stop for school buses unless the road has a median that is not suitable for vehicular traffic, in which case only traffic in the lanes on the same side of the median as the bus are required to stop. Motorists are required by law to stop on both sides of the street when a bus is using its red flashing lights.
Starting Aug. 20, motorists are warned to be aware of bus stop markings such as flashers and stop arms, school zones with flashing lights and signs posting speed limits during school transportation hours. An enhanced law enforcement presence will be protecting these areas.
“Drivers need to use caution and be aware that children may be crossing the street,” Sheriff White said. “Never attempt to pass a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading children, even at their school.”
White noted that law enforcement has been gearing up for the return of students and have implemented enforcement plans for school zones.
“Our goal is to combine proactive as well as reactive enforcement to the issues that arise as students and faculty return to their respective schools,” he said. “Our hope is that with all of the law enforcement agencies partnering together, we will be able to deter the safety concerns as school starts back. This is an issue we take very seriously. Lives depend upon it.”
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at email@example.com or @fcpace62 on Twitter.