Bus Safety Week


Increasing awareness, enforcement

By Brittany Hively - bhively@aimmediamidwest.com



National School Bus Safety Awareness Week, Oct. 18-22, raises awareness on the dangers of passing stopped school buses.

National School Bus Safety Awareness Week, Oct. 18-22, raises awareness on the dangers of passing stopped school buses.


Brittany Hively | OVP

Pictured are Mason County Superintendent Keith Burdette, Mason County Transportation Director Charles Towner, Sheriff Deputy Chris Butler, Sheriff Corey Miller, Public Service Commission Transportation Enforcement Agency Officer Matthew Epling and Bus Driver Vickie Flora.


Brittany Hively | OVP

POINT PLEASANT — In light of National School Bus Safety Awareness Week, the Mason County Board of Education and the Mason County Sheriff’s Office are partnering with the Huntington Highway Safety Program in an effort to increase awareness on the dangers of passing stopped school buses.

The three entities recently gathered at the Mason County Schools Transportation Complex speaking on the dangers.

“Everyone knows the vital importance of bus safety, especially stop signs,” said Charles Towner, Mason County Schools transportation director. “We always beg the public, if you see the yellow lights, just go ahead and start stopping your car. Red lights come on, stop sign comes out.”

Towner addressed a number of roads in Mason County, including Route 35, that are issues with drivers passing buses. He also noted that in Point Pleasant, there are three lanes, but drivers are still expected to stop per state law.

With Route 35 being an issue with vehicles passing stopped buses, Towner invited Vickie Flora, bus driver, to speak as she does the Route 35 bus route.

“When you see those flashing lights prepare to stop,” Flora said. “These children, their lives depend on it. Every time you stop for the school, you’re saving lives.”

According to a recent press release from the Huntington Highway Safety Program, each year there is a one-day study performed across the nation accessing the issue by compiling a report of illegal bus passing. “In 2019, West Virginia had 1,963 reported illegal passes that occurred. Of those, 231 drivers passed from the front of the bus, while 34 passed from the rear of the bus.”

The report said there was a number of vehicles passing the school bus on the right side shoulder of the road. “If each observed passing resulted in a fatality, there would have been almost 2,000 children killed in 2019 in West Virginia due to the negligence of drivers,” the press release said.

Sheriff Corey Miller shared that Flora recently reached out to the county commission about the issue, leading Miller himself to start following her route.

“It’s bad. We usually stop someone daily,” Miller said. “I’ve been going out in front of the bus and if it looks like they’re not going to stop, I’m flashing my lights. I’m getting most of them stopped, some of them still don’t pay any attention.”

Miller said he was not sure if drivers were aware, but the first offense of passing a stopped school bus is a $500 fine and an automatic 60-day loss of license.

Deputy Chris Butler said the largest portion of violators are those in transit from truck drivers to distance commuters to travelers.

“Public service information is also teamed up with making sure that commercial drivers need to be aware of these regulations as well,” Butler said.

Sheriff Miller and Deputy Butler both asked if the public sees reoccurring issues everyday, for them to contact the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Miller said he believes all of the busses are equipped with cameras now that can be reviewed.

Deputy Butler works largely with road safety, funded through grant money.

“This quarter we’re doing seat belts and bus participation,” Butler said.

Last quarter the main focus was bus safety, Butler said.

“Our focus is to get unsafe drivers and vehicles off the roadways,” said Officer Matthew Epling, Public Service Commission Transportation Enforcement Agency. “The Public Service Commission is always looking for an opportunity to educate the industry, as well as the public on safe operation of commercial motor vehicles, work zones and monitor safe driving behaviors across motor vehicles around school bus operations.”

During Bus Safety Week, officers will be patrolling extra bus routes, including riding along on some buses with a focus on Route 35, Route 2 and Route 62 in Mason County.

“We just appreciate the public’s support and help, especially the law enforcement, especially the sheriff’s office in partnering with us,” Towner said.

© 2021, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

National School Bus Safety Awareness Week, Oct. 18-22, raises awareness on the dangers of passing stopped school buses.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2021/10/web1_thumbnail_IMG_4248.jpgNational School Bus Safety Awareness Week, Oct. 18-22, raises awareness on the dangers of passing stopped school buses. Brittany Hively | OVP

Pictured are Mason County Superintendent Keith Burdette, Mason County Transportation Director Charles Towner, Sheriff Deputy Chris Butler, Sheriff Corey Miller, Public Service Commission Transportation Enforcement Agency Officer Matthew Epling and Bus Driver Vickie Flora.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2021/10/web1_thumbnail_IMG_4251.jpgPictured are Mason County Superintendent Keith Burdette, Mason County Transportation Director Charles Towner, Sheriff Deputy Chris Butler, Sheriff Corey Miller, Public Service Commission Transportation Enforcement Agency Officer Matthew Epling and Bus Driver Vickie Flora. Brittany Hively | OVP
Increasing awareness, enforcement

By Brittany Hively

bhively@aimmediamidwest.com

Brittany Hively is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.

Brittany Hively is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.