What do you think when you see flashing lights behind you? Bad news, right?

But that wasn’t the case this week in southern West Virginia.

Deputies in Mason and Putnam counties were looking to spread holiday cheer by rewarding good drivers.

They were looking for drivers who payed attention to state laws like wearing a seatbelt, not talking on a hand-held cell phone, and using turn signals.

Some 60 good drivers got a $100 gift card, courtesy of Appalachian Railcar Services, which has offices in both counties and wanted to give back to the community.

Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers said he’ll never forget that day when he and two deputies hit the road to reward drivers doing their part to keep area roads safe.

“We got a chance to play Santa Claus, and it felt great. My first one was a young woman and I noticed there was a car seat in the back, so I thought she was probably a young mother who could probably use some help,” he said.

Although they were treated like regular traffic stops, complete with flashing lights, each one had a happy ending.

“It’s just normal for anyone to be a little nervous. But in the end, when I explained that she’d been stopped for all the things she’d been doing right she started to tear up. Then she said how much the money would help for Christmas since she was a single mother,” he said.

“As much as I like arresting dope dealers, this was even better. It was nice to let the guys do something that made people happy.”

Cpl. Ronnie Spencer got a big hug from a woman who couldn’t contain her happiness.

That sounded familiar to Putnam County Sheriff Steve Deweese, who said Cpls. W.O. Seanze and A.J. Craigo, had been happy to give out gift cards instead of tickets.

“They said that basically every one of the drivers they’d stopped had cried.”

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