Part 1: Authorities patrol U.S. Route 19 for driver safety

Local - 4/29/2014 5:14 PM by Karen Franklin
MOUNT HOPE - U.S. Route 19 is a major highway connecting Florida to Pennsylvania. In West Virginia, stoplights, quick exits and mountains make it a unique stretch of road.

In Fayette County, city police, county deputies and state troopers patrol for the same goal: Driver safety.

"If the person is weaving, the person may be asleep or texting," Mount Hope Lt. Mark Larkin told WOAY. "We stop females from putting on makeup while they're driving. It's funny because it's like, 'Wow, I can't believe this.' Reading a book, reading a map -- just things like that."

Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler hopes to continue to reduce highway fatalities.

"We'd like to be able to stop it 100 percent," Kessler said. "That's not realistic, but if we cut it in half traveling on our roads, that would be a pretty good start."

Officers at the Mount Hope Police Department said 75 percent of their speeders are from outside of the state.

"A lot of people that have been driving several hours -- they may think the speed limit is 70," Larkin said. "They get in that groove. You know how it is when you go on a trip. After an hour or two of driving, you're going to go that same speed."

Deputies and police agree speeding is the most common traffic infraction. They hope an increased presence will mean increased awareness.

"You come down and you see a police car and you slow down," Mount Hope Police Chief Tom Peal told WOAY. "That's what we're after. We don't want more accidents in our area. First of all, it gets people hurt, and second of all, it's more work for us."

Kessler agreed.

"We still get a lot of people who come through the checkpoints with DUI, seat belt or phone violations, and I'm trying to write as many tickets," Kessler said. "We write a lot of tickets. I'm trying to get people to just wear your seat belt. Wear your seat belt. Don't talk on that phone."

Something else to remember out on the roads: Move over. The number of officers struck is on the rise, according to police.

"We write people for that," Larkin told WOAY. "I've been buzzed several times by cars failing to get off, and it's pretty scary. It actually feels like they're about this close to you."


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