Berkshire County police to 'Blitz' school bus stop scofflaws

Wednesday October 19, 2011

Six Berkshire County police departments are on alert this week for drivers who fail to stop for school buses.

The police departments in Adams, Cheshire, Great Barrington, Pittsfield, Stockbridge and Williamstown are among 125 departments statewide taking part in the school bus safety campaign called "Operation Yellow Blitz." It coincides with National School Bus Safety Week.

The effort is an undercover exercise to catch drivers who fail to stop for school buses when they are picking up or dropping off students.

According to state law, anyone who fails to do so may be subject to a minimum $250 fine. Repeat offenders can lose their drivers license and face up to $2,000 in fines.

Though the state program is in its seventh year, Great Barrington Police Chief William Walsh said this will be the first year his officers will formally join the campaign. He said an on-duty officer will be assigned this week to follow a local school bus on its route and keep surveillance of any bus stop violations.

"I think it's a timely initiative with the beginning of the school year. We've had complaints in the past, especially with people passing buses," Walsh said.

Stockbridge Police Chief Richard Wilcox said his department has previously participated in several Yellow Blitz operations and keep a look out on a daily basis.

"We just had one [violation] yesterday, and an officer issued the driver a citation," said Wilcox.

"It's amazing how many people drive through [a bus stop] even though there's flashing red lights and a stop sign. This is a concentrated effort to make people aware of school bus safety and the need to stop," he said.

Last year, Operation Yellow Blitz issued 110 citations statewide to drivers for illegally passing a school bus.


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