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Distracted driving a focus as school year starts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - With West Virginia schools opening over the next few weeks, state education leaders are asking motorists to use extra caution to avoid distracted driving.

The state Department of Education says motorists should especially pay attention to school buses that flash their warning lights when picking up or dropping off students.

Drivers who ignore the lights can face up to six months of jail time if convicted. The penalties are much steeper if there's an accident causing injury or death.

State Schools Superintendent Jim Phares says handheld cell phone use while driving is "a real threat" to the safety of students. That became a primary offense on July 1 and carries the same fines as texting behind the wheel, including $100 for a first offense and more for subsequent violations.


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