ANDOVER, Kan. For many students in Wichita and the surrounding area, the start of school Thursday comes with an urgent reminder from school districts, police and school bus drivers: Drive carefully around the buses taking children to and from school and never pass a bus when it's stopped with the lights flashing and stop arm out.
"We've had some close calls. Luckily they were just close calls and nothing ever tragic happened here," says Tina Hiemerman, a driver for the Andover school district.
Wednesday, Heimerman tested drivers to get them ready for what they'll see with the stop arm out red lights flashing. Eyewitness News rode along with Heimerman Wednesday. One car stopped for the stop arm and lights, another ignored the signal.
In April, the state did a one-day study in which more than 1,000 drivers illegally passed buses on both sides of the street.
Heimerman says when children get off the bus, you never know what direction they might be walking. So, when drivers see the arm bar, she hopes people stop on both sides of the street to keep them safe.
If you drive by a stop sign extended from a school bus, be prepared to pay if you're caught. With court costs, it can be more than $400.