School bus safety is important as children begin first weeks of school

Drivers should be very cautious as Central Florida schools are in session

As Central Florida children return back to school, drivers are still getting used to being stuck behind buses and adhering to school zone speed limits. 

"Back to school safety. Not only are we putting more children on the road in vehicles, but now we're having children walking at night on sidewalks, depending on what school they start. They're hanging around these school bus stop areas where traffic is moving," said Steven Montiero, a Florida Highway Safety Patrol safety officer.

With school being back in session, school buses and kids are much closer to busy roads

"We need drivers to be aware that these kids are going to be out there at these times where they're not used to seeing children out there," he said. 

Florida school buses have two lights; an amber-colored warning light and a red stop light.

"Those amber lights are to indicate to other drivers a warning.We're ready to stop. We're getting ready to either unload children or bring them on board the school bus. It's not time for you to speed up," Montiero said.

When you see the amber light, you should slow down and prepare to stop. There should be ample space between your vehicle and the school bus. 

"Once that red light indicates, that's the time for you to stop your car. It's not time for you to speed up, it's time for you to stop with that school bus so that our children can get on safely," he said. 

Because keeping our kid's safe is a top priority, safety violations carry a heavy fine. 

"Passing a school bus is a moving violation here in Central Florida. It's $165 and three points on your driver's license," he said. 

Some penalties can be higher than that. If you pass a stopped school bus on the right, where students board, you will get a mandatory court appearance, as that violation is taken very seriously.