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School bus

The deaths of three kids who were struck crossing a rural Indiana highway going to a school bus remind us about one of the dangers of living in less populated areas.

The motorist told police she didn't realize a bus headed in the opposite direction was stopped. Police say she ignored the stop arm, a situation that's far too common.

In Indiana, more than 3,000 drivers have violated the state school bus stop-arm law, and lawmakers are now working to get cameras added to the outside of all buses.

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services estimated there are 15 million violations in a school year across America, although it's tricky to pin down because so many instances aren't reported to authorities.

Why does it happen?

Sometimes motorists are in a rush and don't see the arm or flashing lights.

Or they ignore the signals and take a gamble if a child isn't around.

Or they pass on the shoulder or pull into the left lane.

Or they don't understand the rules.

None are valid reasons.

Illinois Vehicle Code says all vehicles approaching a school bus have to stop regardless of which direction the bus is traveling. The exception is when both vehicles are on a four-lane road and the bus is stopped in the opposite direction.

Illinois State Police have taken to social media to plead with motorists to pay attention after witnessing close calls.

"If found guilty of passing a bus stop arm when required to stop, your license WILL BE suspended," reads one post. "Officers know that when they write the ticket, but they also know the consequences of not writing the ticket could be much worse."

In Florida, the state created a toll-free line to report violators. Several states, including Connecticut, have one-day saturation programs that target common bus violation spots. In Will County, Illinois, police cars were equipped with bus radio frequencies to respond quickly.

The reality is, it's the job of all motorists to protect school bus passengers.

Be alert and keep our kids safe.

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