The first day of school is quickly approaching for most students, and as school buses take the road again, officials say it's important for drivers to understand their role in keeping students safe.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, kids are 70 times safer on a bus than in a car, but that risk increases significantly when kids are getting on and off the bus.
Nick French, bus driver for Shenandoah County Public Schools, says people drive around his stop sign all the time — posing a serious danger to children.
"I don't know if they're texting or what," French said, "but if the first one runs it, two or three following them will run it at the same time."
In Virginia, failing to follow school bus signals is considered reckless driving, and bus drivers have become an extra set of eyes for law enforcement.
"They actually use their radios on the buses to call in vehicle descriptions and tag numbers," said Deputy Samantha Cline, with the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office. "Their people contact us, and we go from there."
But to avoid putting kids in danger — and getting a ticket — deputies are reminding drivers to follow a few simple rules.
"When the yellow lights start flashing, that means to slow down. When the red lights are flashing, and the stop sign comes out — that means to stop."
Drivers are required by law to stop for as long as the bus' stop sign is extended, unless separated by a grass or concrete median.
French said following these simple rules will help keep kids safe this school year.
"You've got a lot of child safety involved here, and a lot of bad things could happen."