GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport Police have been on the hunt for drivers violating traffic laws concerning children exiting school buses. The authorities decided to post up near Three Rivers Road following a number of complaints about drivers ignoring bus stop signs.
For Katie Doucet, owner of Wee Ones Childcare, a major priority is the safety of her students and this year, that safety has been a concern.
"We have a lot of children, see a lot of problems on the street here with drivers not paying attention to where they're going. A lot of people speeding, just not paying attention while driving down this very busy road," says Doucet.
Doucet's business sits on the heavily traveled Three Rivers Road. Her complaints, along with countless others, are exactly why Gulfport Police have decided to take action.
"We're out here to address the issue we've been having with the complaints we've been receiving in the last couple weeks of motorists who've passed the stopped school buses that are discharging children," said Damon McDaniel with the Gulfport Police.
Officers have hit the streets looking for violators for about two weeks now. They can be spotted during the busiest traffic hours, which also happens to be the time buses are most likely unloading passengers.
Authorities say the safety of children everywhere is of the utmost importance and violators can expect a hefty fine.
"The fines can be really heavy for not stopping for a school bus, allowing children to exit and you can possibly be imprisoned," McDaniel said.
By statute, the fines can range anywhere between $200 and $500, and officers say they're not kidding about imprisoning violators either.
"For the motorists that are coming through the area and you come across a school bus that has stopped in the road, be patient, be concerned. This may be your child," McDaniel said.
"It just takes a split second for a child to come off that bus and dart out, and that's someone's life taken," Doucet said.
Since the crackdown, officers have already issued six citations. They will continue patrolling the area for the remainder of the school year.