LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Students are headed to the bus stop as the school year starts, and safety officers want to remind drivers about the laws meant to protect students.

Here is what you should know about sharing the road with school buses:

A 2023 survey from the national association of state directors of pupil transportation services found 1,434 cars unlawfully passed stopped school buses in a single day in Kentucky. That’s no surprise to retired Lexington police officer Don Evans.

“It’s not shocking. I don’t think some people understand if they’re on a two-lane road, for instance. They have to stop in either direction,” Evans said.

In Kentucky, when a school bus stops to unload or load students on a two-lane road, all traffic from both directions has to stop. This is also the case on a two-lane road with a center turn lane and a four-lane road that has no median separation.

“Well, first of all, you can hurt a child, which is the worst thing that can happen,” Evans said.

On a four-lane highway with a median separation, only traffic following the bus needs to stop. That’s also the case on a four-lane road with a center turn lane.

“Sometimes people will see the bus in the right lane and think maybe it’s OK to go around it, that the kids aren’t allowed to cross over,’ Evans said.

Those who violate Kentucky law by passing a stopped school bus are subject to fines and/or jail time. Evans said the beginning of the school year is when drivers are most prone to accidents in school zones.

“Anytime you’re in a school zone, you can expect kids, right? And then for a school bus, it’s the same situation. And understanding that kids don’t always pay attention. So it’s really up to the driver to understand that a kid could pop out of nowhere,” Evans said.

You may not be aware of when school starts in your community, but Evans said now is the time to look for those flashing school zone signs. They may be off one day and on the next.