THP focuses on schools


Photo By Jennifer Lassiter
In a statewide effort to keep school children safe, the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) has started a School Bus Ride-Along Program targeted at citing drivers failing to stop for school buses. Troopers rode with a Happy Valley Elementary School bus yesterday afternoon.

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

   In a statewide effort to keep school children safe, the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) has begun a School Bus Ride-Along Program targeted at citing drivers failing to stop for school buses.
  Happy Valley Elementary School was selected randomly, and Bus 44 was followed yesterday afternoon by Trooper Greg Marlowe and Sgt. Stephen Street. THP Lt. Dean Hurley rode along with students in the bus and kept in radio contact with other troopers in case someone was in violation of the law.
  "This is being done from Mountain City to Memphis," said Hurley. "We want to assure the safety of the children being discharged and accepted on the school bus."
  Shuffling out of the school building and outside to find their bus, children were greeted by Hurley Monday afternoon.
  Leaving from Happy Valley Elementary campus at approximately 3 p.m., troopers kept a close eye on oncoming traffic. The route began on Milligan Highway and the bus turned left on Lewis Road to drop off students. The bus then shuttled back to the junior high and high school where it picked up students there and traveled on Powder Branch Road.
  According to Sgt. Street, buses on rural roads are less likely to have someone pass simply because they have less traffic and less room to pass. "People in their own communities will be driving slower, and are less likely to pass than if we were on a state highway, but it can happen," said Street.
  Safety is key in saving lives, and fortunately, yesterday, no one was stopped for violating the law. The School Bus Ride-Along Program will continue across the state and nearby counties.
  "I don't know when or what school we'll be in next," said Hurley. "But our main purpose is the safety of these children."
  Failing to stop for a school bus is a misdemeanor and can garner 8 points on a 12-point scale on the offender's driver's license with fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.