BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The Bismarck Police Department is reminding motorists that with the school year getting underway, drivers need to pay attention to school buses and follow the laws regarding stopped school buses.

In a short video at its Facebook page, the department says a slowing school bus with flashing lights means the bus driver is preparing to stop. Once the retractable stop sign outside the bus is activated and the red lights flash, drivers must come to a complete stop.

“It’s against the law for a driver to pass a school bus that is picking up or dropping off students,” the police department post notes. “It is safe to proceed once the stop sign has been retracted and the bus continues its route.”

Each school bus is equipped with a camera to record violations which are forwarded to the Bismarck Police Department’s Traffic Unit for follow-up and further action.

According to the North Dakota Department of Transportation, “overtaking a school bus” can cost you six points on your drivers license, a rather hefty total — 12 points total can lead to a license suspension.

“Thank you for helping us keep our students safe,” the post concludes.

Meanwhile, AAA in Fargo, through its School’s Open Drive Carefully campaign, has compiled a list of safety tips for drivers during the school season:

  • Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
  • Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
  • Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
  • Share the road with bicyclists. Children on bicycles are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist.