‘Operation Truck Stop’ slows speeders on Berman Road

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) recently engaged in responding to the complaints received about school buses being passed when stopped to pick up or drop off students and about reported speeders on a busy roadway.

The office received numerous complaints regarding the traffic on Dark Hammock Road/ Northeast 120th Street and Berman Road/Southeast 128th Avenue. The complaints were that commercial motor vehicles (CMV) were passing stopped school buses and that they were also speeding on those stretches of road.

“Operation Truck Stop” was conducted beginning on Feb. 19 through Feb. 26. During this time, 183 vehicles were involved in the traffic stops.

The complaints were that commercial motor vehicles (CMV) were passing stopped school buses and that they were also speeding on those stretches of road. Special to the Okeechobee News.

The violations included:
• Speeding citations: 35 CMV; 101 cars;
• Faulty equipment: 11 CMV; two cars;
• Expired driver license: 0 CMV; three cars;
• Driving while license suspended: 0 CMV; three cars;
• Drug offense: 0 CMV; one car;
• Seat-belt violation: five CMV: eight cars;
• No proof of insurance: 0 CMV; one car;
• Failure to maintain a single lane: one CMV; 0 cars;
• Expired registration: 0 CMV: three cars;
• Failure to move over for emergency vehicle: one CMV; 0 cars;
• Failure to exhibit driver license: 0 CMV; three cars;
• Failure to stop for school bus: 0 CMV; one motorcycle;
• No tag: 0 CMV; one car;
• Improper passing: one CMV; one car;
• Unsecured load: one CMV.

Out of all the documented violations, only one was for failure to stop for a school bus, which was part of the incentive to conduct the operation. The vehicle that failed to stop was a motorcycle. Most of the vehicles stopped for traffic violations were for excessive speed in the posted zones, which was the other reason the sheriff’s office decided to perform the operation.

An interesting note is that over 25 percent of the total speeding citations issued (136) were issued to operators of commercial motor vehicles.

During this operation, two deputies patrolled the area from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the eight-day period; one deputy on the motor unit patrolled from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; two deputies patrolled from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; two School Resource Officer (SRO) deputies were on a school bus for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.

Regarding “Operation Truck Stop,” Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stated: “I will continue to work on every area of our county to assure the safety of all motoring public. I have met with the county commission and together we are moving forward with additional measures. We have identified several priorities to work on and implement to assist with traffic enforcement throughout our county.”

According to statements made at Okeechobee County Commission meetings, the operation was a deterrent to speeding by semis because word quickly spread among the drivers that the deputies were on patrol in the area.

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