Stark County deputies ride school buses to catch drivers who put kids at risk

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CANTON, Ohio - From the moment they leave their bus garages early each morning, school bus drivers like Kelly Stauffer, of the Canton Local Schools, say they are always on the defensive.

"You know you have just got to be defensive all the time worrying about when you know somebody is going to run a red light or you know if somebody is going to pull out in front of you. You have just always got to be scanning and looking," said Stauffer.

For the week of October 21, they are getting some help.

The Stark County Sheriff's Office assigns deputies to ride random school buses throughout the county looking out for and citing those violators.

"We have deputies on the buses. We have deputies following the buses if a violation is observed from either a traffic stop will be initiated," said deputy Dominic Antenora, a school resource officer who was riding Canton Local Bus 10 on Wednesday, with another deputy following behind in a cruiser.

"I'm in radio contact with the deputy that is following the bus that we are on right now and if a violation is observed, I can radio him and have that vehicle stopped," said Antenora.

Although there were no incidents observed on the bus 10 route early Wednesday, deputies across Stark County did write citations for three violators on other routes.

"It's not always easy to get a license number of somebody blowing by a bus when we are picking up kids but by having the deputies either shadowing or following along a bus or actually on the bus that's all it takes is one or two stops one or two tickets and people get it," said Canton Local Schools Superintendent Steve Milano.

Drivers believe the majority of the violations happen during their morning routes when people may be in a hurry getting to work and are sharing the road with school buses and teenage drivers who are on their way to school.

"People are in a hurry in the morning to get to work for whatever reason and when you see that bus, the lights go on and the stop sign come out you have got to yield to that bus and stop for the bus," said Milano.

The tragic consequences aside from running the red stop lights on a bus aside, violators also face a hefty fine and required court appearance.

The week-long effort intended to reinforce the need to pay attention and keep students safe.

"I would just ask people to be cautious and you know respect most importantly the precious cargo that is being hauled on these school buses," said Antenora.

"Just slow down. We are big and yellow and we are carrying the most precious cargo that there is so you know we don't want anything to happen to them. Treat every student like they are your own and just take your time and pay attention to your surroundings," said Stauffer.

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