LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As Arkansas students return to class for a new school year, more than 6,000 yellow buses will hit the road once again. Officials want to remind motorists of the dangers and penalties associated with illegally passing a bus.

Drivers in the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) conducted dry runs this with, with one thing top of mind.

"Safety, safety, safety, safety is always first," said Charles Anderson, who oversees transportation training and safety for PCCSD.

"We want students to be safe when they're getting on and off the bus," Anderson said. "We want our drivers to be safe as they are driving and transporting students -- our precious cargo.

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According to Arkansas law, when a school bus stops and displays its alternating red warning lights for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers, every operator of a motor vehicle or motorcycle approaching the school bus from any direction stop completely before reaching the bus.

The law covers 2-lane and multi-lane roads, with one exception. If the school bus is operated on a multiple lane highway divided by a parkway or dividing strip of 20 feet or more in width and if the school bus is on the opposite side of the parkway or dividing strip, then the driver of the approaching vehicle need not stop but shall proceed with caution for the safety of the children.

Act 1006 of 2019 increased penalties for illegally passing a school bus. If convicted, the fines for doing so range from $500 to $2,500.

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"If you don't stop, that could be your relative, your nephew, your niece. That could be your child, somebody some kin to you, somebody's child that you know that's getting run over because somebody is in a hurry to get to work," Anderson said.