The bus driver has to request prosecution, and could be asked to miss some work in order to attend a court hearing, Beckett said. Trying to make sure the violation has been recorded while conducting the normal facets of their bus driving duties can create a hectic situation, Beckett said.
"It's a major process," Beckett said. "It's stressful for the drivers, too."
A major part of the push from the state Department of Education is showing those responsible with catching and punishing violators that more enforcement is needed, Shew said. The department is working with the state Supreme Court to hold informational sessions for magistrates, because some "may not even be aware it's a problem," Shew said.
The West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association is also helping pay for "gas toppers," She said. The signs, which will appear atop every gas pump in the state, will explain the dangers and consequences of illegally passing a bus.
To kickoff the campaign, state troopers will join students on buses across the state this week, Shew said. If the trooper sees a violation, he or she will radio to a car that is trailing the bus, Shew explained. The violator will be arrested and taken immediately to the local magistrate, he said.
"Our goal is really a zero-tolerance of any illegal passing," Shew said.
First offenders face up to $500 in fines, six months in jail and a suspended license for 30 days, Shew said. A second offense is met with a $500 fine with the potential for six months in jail and the driver's license will be suspended for 90 days.
At least 24 hours in jail is mandatory on the third offense, as is a $500 fine and suspending the driver's license for 180 days, he said.
If a student is injured or killed as a result of illegal passing, violators face up to 10 years in prison and a $3,000 fine, he said.
The penalties are in place. Now, in Beckett's opinion, it's time to enforce them.