VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– With Vigo County Schools set to start classes on Thursday, Adam Eldridge has several reminders for drivers as they see more school buses pop back up on the roads. 

“It’s just kind of watching out, keeping your eyes on the road, making sure you pay attention, because I treat the bus just like it’s my family, just wanting to get kids to school and home,” he said. 

Eldridge, a mechanic and bus driver for VCSC, is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel– but he said the first few weeks can be hard with so many drivers not used to seeing buses during their morning commutes. 

“Since we sit higher up, we can kind of see everything around us and what’s coming towards us and also watching our mirrors to see who’s behind us. There are a few who just kind of mistakenly don’t really see us or just might be busy doing something else,” he said. “We do tend to see a little bit more higher stop arm violations in the first few weeks of school.”

Indiana law requires drivers on both sides of the street stop when buses are waiting for students to enter or exit– including on four-lane roads that don’t have a median. 

Many school corporations– including VCSC– have equipped their buses with cameras to help enforce the law. 

“Give us some space, you know kids are either coming from the door side of the opposite side of the road,” he said. “The cameras are definitely our biggest help. Not just for if there are stop arm violations, if something may happen with the bus itself. There are accidents, things occur we may not know of.”

For Sullivan County Sheriff Jason Bobbitt, the cameras play a big part in holding driving accountable. 

“In rural areas, there may not be a police office close to that particular area, and if a bus driver reports that someone ran a stop arm, they can contact us and go back and look at the video and get a license plate number,” he said. 

And he offers annual reminders around this time for his officers to pay close attention.

“I encourage all my guys to follow school buses. If they are there, follow them, we don’t write warnings,” he said. 

Eldridge said it’s not hard for drivers to follow the rules– especially with safety at risk. 

“We know what color the buses are, they’re big, yellow buses. We see the flashing lights, we see the red lights.”