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Cleveland County Deputies began their annual, “Back-to-School Safety Traffic Enforcement,” last month as a public safety initiative with 29 traffic contacts made, and one traffic citation issued.
The project was designed to ensure the safety of students and staff reporting to school during the first two weeks of the school year. Emphasis was placed on drivers who were speeding, passing school buses loading and off-loading students, as well as other moving traffic violations that affect school safety.
“The safety of our children is a top priority,” said Sheriff Todd Gibson. “Most people respect school zones, but sometimes we have to remind them that school is back in session.”
The initiative included Noble, Little Axe, and Lexington schools and focused on the beginning and ending of the school day. With different start dates of the schools involved, the project kicked off on Aug. 8 and ended on Aug. 27.
“We’re just trying to keep the area safe for the kids and the staff and to remind people to keep to the speed limits,” said Lt. Jeff Hixon, who spearheaded the project. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
All-Stars were M.Sgt. Travis Shroyer followed by Deputy Vernon Coleman in numbers of contacts with motorists.
“Most people we stop are very apologetic and cooperative,” Hixon said. “We typically don’t have an issue when we stop someone in a school zone.”
Hixon said issuing warnings usually does the job without a citation needing to be written.
“I’m not trying to ruin someone’s day when I’m stopping them,” Hixon said. “I’m trying to keep people safe.”
In addition to speed in school zones, patrol deputies will cite motorists failing to stop for a school bus with red flashing lights and a stop sign visible while loading and unloading children — a time when kids are most at risk.
“Our deputies have done a great job of reminding drivers to watch their speed and respect stopped buses, using mostly warnings to get the message across,” Gibson said. “We’ll continue to monitor those areas and issue citations as needed. We want all children to have a safe school year.”
Motorists who are cited for illegally passing a school bus could potentially lose their driver’s licenses for one year. Violators could also be made to pay a high dollar fine and have four points added to their traffic records. The suspension for one year is with no modification, meaning no exceptions are allowed.