(KLIX) – Drivers in Idaho who do not yield to the flashing lights and stop signs on school buses will now be paying more out of their wallet for breaking the law.

According to legislation signed by Gov. Brad Little, fines for ignoring school bus signs have increased. First-time offenders will be fined $200. The fines go up for repeated offenders: a second offense carries a price tag of $400, and a third offense is $600.

School buses have been around since about 1915 and, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In all that time there has been an uneasy coexistence between school buses and motorists.”

School buses make frequent stops to load and unload students. It is the nature of their business. By law, when a school bus stops to drop off or pick up students, motorists must stop too. But motorists often don’t want to stop. Motorists want to get where they are going, with little interruption and as quickly as they can.

Not much has changed in the past two decades. A survey about unsafe driving behaviors in 1997 revealed that 99% of drivers interviewed said they believed the most dangerous driving behavior was passing a school bus with its lights flashing and stop arm extended, according to the NHTFA.

Passing a stopped school bus was considered to be more dangerous than any other unsafe driving behavior, more dangerous even than racing another driver, driving through a stop sign or red light, crossing railroad tracks with red lights blinking, passing in a no-passing zone, and speeding.

In December Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra released a public service announcement aimed to increase public awareness of school buses and the stop-arm law to protect students.

“Distracted drivers put our kids at risk,” Ybarra said at the time, urging drivers to “watch for school buses as they pick up and drop off kids.”

Ignoring such signs not only increases the driver’s risk of collecting a hefty fine but more seriously it puts children’s lives at risk.

The legislation Little signed last week is going a step further than just increasing offender fines; some of the money collected will be appropriated to install cameras on school buses, the bill reads.

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