MHP’s ‘Operation STOP’ back in session for new school year

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 4:27 PM CDT
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DESOTO CO., Miss. (WMC) - School is back in session, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) is back to patrolling school zones to ensure students are safe.

This year, MHP says they’re stepping up those patrols to increase safety.

For the past five years, “Operation STOP” has been a vital campaign dedicated to ensuring safe travel to and from school for Mississippi students.

The objective for MHP is clear, according to Sergeant Marvin Baird.

“Bring awareness to the importance of stopping for all buses as they are loading and unloading students,” Sgt. Baird said.

Throughout the school year, emphasis will be placed on adding law enforcement to school bus loading zones to combat speeding and distracted drivers.

“It is our intent to keep all of our students as safe as possible this year,” said Sgt. Baird.

But safe driving isn’t just for the kids on the bus. It’s for everyone trying to make it to their destinations, with a focus on younger drivers who don’t have as much experience.

“We are trying to keep the students safe on the buses, but we’re trying to keep the motoring public safe as they travel up and down the dangerous highways,” Baird says.

In 2022, 62 teenagers lost their lives in crashes on Mississippi roads. The state also reports 280 crashes involving school buses.

MHP says now, they are stepping into the classroom to make a difference, teaching distracted driver courses to teen drivers.

“That means that they’re taking their attention off of the roadway as they drive, and if you’re taking attention from the roadway, you are distracted,” said Sgt. Baird. “If your mind is somewhere else, your eyes or somewhere else, even if you’re looking straight in front of you.”

MHP emphasizes that it is the law to stop at least 10 feet behind a stopped school bus and that being safe behind the wheel is not an option, but a requirement.

“It’s not about a ticket, it’s about a life,” said Sgt. Baird. “So if we can save a life through a ticket, then we will do that.”

MHP says “Operation STOP” will host activities throughout the school year to get the community involved in this safety campaign.

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