CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — With children headed back to school soon, drivers have been warned to watch out for students getting off school buses. One safety expert told 8News Monday that drivers need to be even more alert now.

Janet Brooking, with Drive Smart Virginia, spoke with 8News after two videos were shared online of children almost being hit by cars after getting off their school bus.

“When the bus stops, be very, very, very cognizant of the surroundings,” Brooking said. “This time of year, we’re going to have lots of extra pedestrians on the roadways. As drivers, it’s very, very important to be more vigilant in their communities to drive slow.”

It’s something driving experts say could happen in Virginia, if people are not careful.

“It’s a law in Virginia, that when a school bus is stopped with children are entering or not, you have to stop on either side of the road,” Brooking told 8News. “You shouldn’t drive distracted anyways, strictly at this time of year. You don’t want to drive distracted because you certainly don’t want to harm one of these children going to school.”

Texting, talking on the phone, using your GPS or any other example of distracted driving is a danger to pedestrians and drivers.

Governor Northam said drivers who pass a stopped school bus could face a reckless driving ticket. If convicted, the driver could face up to 12 months in jail or a fine of up to $2,500.

The governor’s office shared these tips for parents to share with their children:

  • When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Do not attempt to board the bus, or cross the road to get to the bus, until the bus is fully stopped and its stop sign is extended. Look both ways and make sure no other vehicles are approaching.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus is stopped and that the bus driver sees you and indicates that it is safe for you to cross.
  • Tell an adult if you drop an item near a bus, or any vehicle. Don’t run back to get it unless an adult says it is safe.

For more information about school bus safety, click here.