State Police initiate Operation: Safe Stop to help keep kids safe

PAW PAW, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 174 children died in school transportation-related crashes in the last decade.

Tuesday, State Police in Paw Paw initiated operation "Safe Stop"--a program new this year aimed at cracking down drivers violating school bus laws.

Newschannel 3 was there Tuesday morning, as State Police kept a watchful eye on the roads on students' first day back to class.

It wasn't just an early wake-up call for students Tuesday, but for troopers that are adding a few hours onto their day all week, as students--and drivers--settle into their back to school routine.

We were along for the ride Tuesday in Mattawan, as the Paw Paw post launched the new back to school initiative to make sure our students here in West Michigan stay safe.

Bus drivers in Mattawan--and across West Michigan--were up before dawn, ready and waiting to shuttle students to their first day of class.

"Students safety has to be primary," said First Lieutenant Dale Hinz, the Paw Paw Post Commander.

Many buses this morning were shadowed by State Police, following along routes to make sure others drivers are taking it slow.

"Some school bus drivers had made note to me that they were having a problem with passing school bus lights, so with back to school we thought it was a great time to get out there and do some public safety awareness," Lt. Hinz said.

It's all part of a new week-long initiative by the Paw Paw post, known as "Operation Safe Stop," helping to offer a reminder as everyone gets into the swing this "back to school" season.

"When the lights are flashing yellow, that means proceed with caution, when they are red and the stop sign comes out on the sign, that means you have to stop," Hinz said.

Failing to follow the rules comes with a fine--one that usually runs around 200 dollars, and tacking three points on your license.

State Police are hoping special attention this week will lead to a safer school year for students.

They say the school bus is the safest way for students to travel, and they're doing all they can it keep it that way.