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Pasco deputies: Stop. Driving. By. Stopped. School. Buses.

PORT RICHEY — Deputies launched an operation this week to catch drivers who illegally speed by stopped school buses on U.S. 19.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said the effort is the result of complaints it heard this weekend that many motorists are failing to stop on the busy highway for school buses.

Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said that deputies looked into the complaints on Monday and found "there are numerous drivers just blowing by stopped school buses."

By Florida law, drivers must stop when the school bus extends its stop signs and activates its flashing red lights on two-lane roads and highways that are not divided by a raised median.

On divided highways, drivers headed in the same direction as the bus must stop and opposing traffic must proceed with caution.

Enforcement started Tuesday.

The issue got social media's attention, too. Monica Douglas, a Hudson mother whose three kids ride a school bus, on Wednesday posted a Facebook video of herself cheering deputies as they pulled drivers over for ignoring the stopped bus. It has already been viewed more than 4.5 million times.

Deputies are monitoring school buses during morning and afternoon stops, Doll said, parking near bus stops to intercept scofflaw drivers. Deputies handed out 13 citations on Wednesday, Doll said.

The Sheriff's Office plans to continue the effort until deputies think they've made a dent in the number of violations. And the agency is sharing body camera footage of those traffic stops on its social media channels to raise awareness about the problem.

Douglas told the Tampa Bay Times in a Facebook message that she just wanted to get the word out about these drivers to "protect our children."

She added: "It was just a couple moms I got together to make a difference, and it did."

Contact Justin Trombly at jtrombly@tampabay.com. Follow @JustinTrombly.

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