Morgantown Police prepare to crack down on back-to-school traffic

Police are preparing to patrol school zones and the WVU campus to ensure students make it to school safely.
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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.VA. (WDTV) -- As Morgantown students are packing their bags and setting out clothes for the first day of school Tuesday, law enforcement around Monongalia County are preparing to make sure students make it to school safe.

"People just flying. If it's super busy, if they are late, they seem to fly a little faster. I mean, obviously to get their kids in on time and I think they need to just have more security guards, more teachers out there," said Stephanie Blaney, a parent from Morgantown.

Traffic during the back-to-school season is an issue that Morgantown Police are preparing themselves to face.

"We'll have extra patrols looking for people violating school bus stops but if we are not there the buses are equipped with cameras to record people that are passing them so that we can be very aware of that," said Chief Ed Preston, the Morgantown Chief of Police.

Bus stops are a focus for law enforcement this year. According to a Facebook post by the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Perry Palmer directed deputies to take a zero-tolerance approach.

When a school bus is flashing warning signal signs, drivers should not pass. If they do, they could face up to $1,000 in fines and their license suspended for sixty days. That is just on the first offense.

Extra enforcement around schools are what local parents like Stephanie Blaney says is needed.

"I feel like the adults will be more cautious more, you know. When they see police they obviously, tend to slow down," said Blaney.

But the police presence will only do so much. With West Virginia University starting the same time as Monongalia County Schools, the streets will be filled with new challenges.

"For us some of the things to take into account is that there are so many new students. People that are unfamiliar with the area. We've got parents moving folks in to go to school. We've got new drivers. When I say new drivers, I mean, they have had their licenses for a few years. But they are new to this area. Different one-way streets, different traffic patterns, different adjustments. So there's going to be a lot of folks in the area that are not familiar with the area so it's very important for everyone to pay attention," said Chief Preston.

The easiest way to pay attention?

"Put down your electronic devices. If you're walking on the streets, put down your phone. If you're driving, put down your phone. You just don't need that. You need to pay attention to what you're doing," said Chief Preston.