FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Police and schools across Indiana are urging drivers to stop for school buses as they load and unload students.
In April, the four Allen County school districts reported 252 stop arm violations, with Fort Wayne Community Schools having the highest percentage.
Drivers are required to treat school buses as if they are any other traffic signal.
School bus drivers activate their amber warning lights about 200 feet before a stop. That's when other drivers need to slow down and be ready to stop.
When the bus stops and the red lights flash and the stop arm comes out, everyone must stop, including emergency vehicles.
"When you see a school bus, you should be aware there's children around and their children is the most important thing in our lives," said Sue Arnold, who has grandkids riding the bus.
Arnold said she takes extra precautions when she sees a school bus.
"I still allow time when that sign goes back in, I still allow time because they could, like I said, dart," said Arnold.
Schools across the country are having this problem.
Southwest Allen County Schools transportation director Steve Lake said his drivers are reporting violations daily.
"A good day is when everyone does what they're supposed to and every kid gets to school and home safely and we don't have a near miss," said Lake.
Indiana drivers are required to stop whenever a school bus is stopped unless there is a physical barrier between you and the bus.
"Our laws are in place to help save lives, to prevent senseless tragedies," said Sgt. Ron Galaviz, Indiana State Police spokesman.
Schools are using technology to help protect students.
Many districts in northeast Indiana installed stop arm cameras to help catch violations. That is something SACS is considering.
"We're not out trying to get people. It's an awareness thing. Hopefully, if they know we have cameras on our buses, hopefully they stop, hopefully they pay more attention," said Lake.
The maximum fine for illegally passing a school bus is $10,000. If everyone was cited when Allen County schools were counting in April, that would $2.5 million for just one day.
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